He allegedly stole his ex-girlfriend’s vehicle — now he faces drug charges
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of stealing his ex-girlfriend’s vehicle was arrested last month and now faces drug charges for an incident that occurred last month.
To’afa Meripa, 31, made his initial appearance in District Court last month and bond is set at $10,000.
He is charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony punishable by imprisonment between 5-10 years, a fine between $5,000-$10,000 or both; and stealing, a class C felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine, or pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both such fine and imprisonment for each count.
If he is able to post bond, Meripa is to remain law abiding, not leave or attempt to leave the territory, and not make any direct or indirect contact with the government’s witnesses.
It is alleged that on the morning of Feb. 03, 2021, cops spotted a black truck and another red truck parked on the side of the road in Faleniu. The drivers were chatting, while still inside their vehicles.
The driver of the red truck was identified as a young female, while the driver of the black truck was later identified as Meripa, the defendant.
Police stopped at the scene, to find out who was driving the black truck, because the DPS Tafuna Substation received a complaint from a 30-year-old woman the day before, claiming that her ex-boyfriend had stolen her black truck while she was at her aunty’s house.
According to the vehicle’s owner, Meripa broke into her house through a window and stole the keys to her black truck. The owner said she lied to her new boyfriend and told him that she had given Meripa the okay to drive her truck and use it for a week to transport his (Meripa) elderly mother to her medical check at the LBJ Hospital because his vehicle was in the mechanic shop.
Police approached Meripa to inform him about reports that the truck was stolen. Meripa was then told to exit the vehicle and when he did, police saw him trying to hide something inside his pants pocket.
When cops asked him what he was trying to hide, Meripa became nervous and said it was a pack of cigarettes. Meripa then pulled the cigarette pack out, and threw it on the other side of the dirt road.
When asked why he did that, Meripa told police, the pack was empty. An officer instructed him to pick up the empty cigarette pack but Meripa refused.
The officer walked over and picked up the empty cigarette pack and when he opened it, the officer found a small glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth, and a small stamp sized straw with that appeared to have white crystalline substance inside.
At that point, Meripa told police that it was the female driver who gave him the pack of cigarettes, and he had no knowledge of what was inside.
Both Meripa and the female driver were then taken to the TPS for questioning. In an interview with police, the female driver said Meripa came to her house to hang out with her because the police were looking for his ex-girlfriend’s black truck he had stolen.
She said that on the day in question, she stopped Meripa’s vehicle and asked him to leave her residence because she didn’t want to be involved with his problems. According to her, she has nothing to do with the pack of cigarettes Meripa threw away, as she doesn’t smoke or do drugs.
When questioned by police, Meripa denied any knowledge of the drugs discovered inside the cigarette pack. He told officers it was the female driver who gave it to him. He also denied his ex-girlfriend’s accusation that he stole her truck. He told police his ex-girlfriend allowed him to use her truck, and she gave him the key, he never stole it.