Guy found in wrong place at wrong time last year — is there again
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A female driver and a male passenger in a vehicle pulled over by police officers for a seat belt violation last month are now in custody after officers discovered illegal drugs and paraphernalia inside the vehicle.
Moreover, the male passenger was the same person allegedly involved in a hot pursuit with police one night prior. However, police were unable to stop the vehicle this male individual allegedly drove, despite the fact that two senior police officers identified the male individual.
When police officers approached the vehicle, they pulled over for the seat belt violation, they identified the driver as Tusani William, a female, and the male passenger was identified as Anitepa Taulaga, who is not new to the court system.
The government claims that on the afternoon of Oct. 18, 2020, police patrolling in Futiga saw a truck being driven at high speed; and also noted that the driver was not wearing a seat belt.
Cops pulled over the truck in front of a store in Leone. And, while cops approached the vehicle, the driver of the vehicle, who was later identified as William, had already exited the truck, with a black bag in her hand and she attempted to run away from police.
Cops instructed William to get back inside the vehicle, but she refused and demanded to know why they had stopped the vehicle. However, the matter was resolved calmly, with William getting back inside the vehicle per police instructions while still holding on to the black bag.
A male passenger was sitting in the back seat behind the driver’s seat of the vehicle and was later identified as Anitepa Taulaga, the co-defendant in this case.
When asked for her driver’s license, William said she didn’t have it with her. Her name was then run through the Office of the Motor Vehicle’s (OMV) system and it turned out that her driver’s license expired 3 years ago.
When asked why she didn’t renew her driver’s license, William stated that she feared that she might get locked up because she had an outstanding warrant for her arrest 3 years ago for her involvement in a burglary.
(Police had no information to prove that there was a warrant to arrest William for her involvement in any burglary case.)
Police also checked the truck’s license plate and discovered that it did not belong to the truck. Both William and Taulaga were then asked to step out of the vehicle.
William was patted down and a glass pipe containing white crystalline substance was found inside her left pants pocket, leading to her immediate arrest.
Cops also searched the black bag and cops allegedly discovered inside it illegal drugs and paraphernalia – contents included 8 cut-up straws containing white crystalline substance wrapped inside a medium ziploc baggie; 10 small stamp-sized baggies containing white crystalline substance; along with paraphernalia.
A glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance was also discovered inside the vehicle between the driver’s and the passenger’s seat.
Taulaga was also patted down and 3 glass pipes containing white crystalline substance was discovered in his pants pocket, along with two marijuana joints and $210 cash.
Members of the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit were notified about the illegal drugs, and two detectives were assigned to investigate.
Both William and Taulaga were taken to the Tafuna Police Station (TPS) for questioning. Each defendant was taken to different rooms for interviews.
When asked about the 3 glass pipes containing white crystalline substance discovered in his possession, Taulaga told police they belonged to him. He further stated that the small black bag containing illegal drugs also belonged to him. He got the stuff from a close friend and they were on their way to deliver the stuff to another man.
Taulaga mentioned the man’s name to police and the man’s name is also mentioned in the affidavit.
When asked about the illegal drugs and paraphernalia discovered in the vehicle, Taulaga told investigators that everything that was inside the black bag and the vehicle belonged to him.
In his written statement to investigators, Taulaga stated that a man gave him the drugs to deliver to another man. The man who owns the drugs is his best friend and he was acting as a runner and he gets paid for his job.
On the day in question, his wife and children used their family vehicle to go to a church function, so he decided to call his friend William to see if she could pick him up to deliver his stuff. William agreed and a few minutes later, William arrived to pick him up from his home, and they went to drop off the stuff.
Taulaga also told investigators that on their way to drop the stuff, he gave a glass pipe containing methamphetamine to his friend William to show his appreciation for responding to his request.
When asked about his involvement in a hot pursuit with police on the previous night where his vehicle did not stop, Taulaga denied any involvement in a hot pursuit with police on the previous night. He told investigators his wife and children are at a church camp and they have their only family vehicle with them.
William was questioned by investigators regarding the glass pipe containing methamphetamine found in her possession.
According to William’s story, she confirmed Taulaga’s account of her involvement, as well as being shocked when Taulaga gave her a glass pipe containing methamphetamine as a thank you for responding to his request.
William told investigators that she had no idea that there were other illegal drugs with them. However, when police instructed them to pull over, that’s when Taulaga handed her a small black bag and told her to get out and run. She said she didn’t know what was inside the bag and noted that the glass pipe found inside the car belonged to Taulaga. He placed the glass pipe there when police pulled over their vehicle.
The driver, Wiliam and the passenger, Taulaga made their initial appearances before District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea last month.
Taulaga is charged with one count of unlawful possess of methamphetamine; one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute; one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, all felonies.
William is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony.
Taulaga’s bail is set at $20,000, and William’s at $5,000.
William was convicted by the High Court on the charge of conspiracy to commit fraud and was sentenced to 5-year probation with the condition that she serve a period of detention of 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF). She was one of the co-defendants involved in a stealing scam at a local supermarket many years ago. William provided fake receipts to prove that money was already received.
Taulaga was arrested and charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, after a police raid of his friend’s house in Petesa in February of last year while he was also present.
Taulaga’s case was bound over in High Court, and he remained in custody unable to post a $30,000 surety bond.
However, in August of last year, Taulaga’s case was dismissed after the court granted the government’s motion to dismiss the case against the defendant. The government cited in their motion to dismiss that Taulaga was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”