Jury trial for Tumuatasi Lefatia, a.k.a MAMA set to begin this week
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The jury trial of the owner of the LE AUTE Sports Bar, Tumuatasi Lefatia, a.k.a MAMA accused of violating local drug laws is scheduled to kick-off in High Court Monday morning at 9 before Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea.
Lefatia’s trial, which was scheduled for Oct. 9, 2020, was pushed back by the court to Apr. 5, 2021 due to restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lefatia, who is out on bond appeared before Patea last month for a Status Hearing. She is represented by private attorney Marcell Talaimalo Uiagalelei, while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Kristie Solue.
During the hearing, both parties agreed to let the matter go forward this week.
Lefatia is charged with 4 felony counts, including unlawful possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine (meth); unlawful possession of a controlled substance, meth with the intent to distribute; unlawful possession of a control substance, marijuana; and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, marijuana with the intent to distribute.
Witnesses for the government will include police officers, who took part in the raid of the Le Aute business compound, where Lefatia was arrested.
According to the government’s allegation, it was approximately 6:10a.m on Sept. 12, 2018 when armed detectives of the Vice & Narcotics Unit along with several other police officers executed a search warrant at the Le Aute business compound.
The search warrant was issued in connection with a felony case involving a suspect identified as Manu Lefatia, who at the time was incarcerated and is alleged to have shot a man on Aug. 12, 2018.
Samoa News should point out that Manu is the son of Mrs. Lefatia and the pickup truck that was allegedly used to transport Manu back to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) after the alleged shooting is said to belong to the business — Le Aute.
The search was performed on one of the three structures mentioned in the search warrant. The structure in question was identified as the “Pool Hall” — which is a single story structure that has an extended overhang that houses the pool tables as well as a moderately sized residential area. The residence holds three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry room, a kitchen and a common area that connects to the pool hall.
Mrs. Lefatia was observed in one of the 3 bedrooms, sitting up from the bed at the far right side of the room, by several officers. Another female and an infant were also present.
The affidavit alleges Lefatia, along with the female and the infant were escorted outside of the room by officers. Lefatia was then informed by the lead investigating officer, Det. Justin Thomsen about what was happening and produced a copy of the search warrant for her to inspect.
After reviewing the copy of the search warrant, Lefatia acknowledged that she understood the situation and officers immediately began the search in the bedroom Lefatia had been found in.
Police allegedly found a small black pouch in a night table next to the bed. Police claim inside the pouch they found one clear baggie containing 7 hand-rolled cigarettes containing a green leafy substance and $70 USD in various bills and another clear baggie containing 19 hand-rolled cigarettes containing a green leafy substance.
Also allegedly inside the pouch was a third clear baggie containing three medium sized Ziploc baggies containing a white crystalline substance appearing to be meth, along with about 33 empty stamp-sized Ziploc baggies commonly used to package meth, and also 3 stamp-sized baggies that had a very small amount of white crystalline substance appearing to be meth.
Police pointed out the findings to Lefatia, who allegedly was unsurprised and stated, “Does it have my name on it?”
A safe was also found in the bedroom, but could not be opened at the scene. It was confiscated to be opened and searched at a later time.
Police searched another of the 3 bedrooms located in the southwest corner of the structure, and allegedly found a stamp-sized baggie of a white crystalline substance appearing to be meth. Police also informed Lefatia of the find to which she responded by asking if anyone was found in the room during the clearing process of the structure. Police told her no.
The search continued and officers allegedly found what appeared to be marijuana seeds and small pieces of green leaves appearing to be marijuana on a shelf inside of the laundry room.
The search continued to the pool hall portion of the structure and court documents say police found a bandana with two glass pipes commonly used to smoke meth with a white crystalline substance inside them. Police also found what appeared to be a third pipe that was broken.
Lefatia was taken into custody and transported to the Central Police Station for processing.
Chemical testing was conducted on all of the substances in question (aside from the seeds), and all of the tests yielded positive results. The white crystalline substances were found to test positive for meth, and all green leafy substances tested positive for THC, an active compound in the controlled substance marijuana.
Lefatia was Mirandized, which she understood as reflected by her signature, however, she stated to police that she did not wish to make a statement regarding any of the items found during the search.
All evidence was turned over to the DPS’s Evidence Custodian.
BACKGROUND — LEFATIA’S PROBATION
On March 2015, the police raided the Le Aute Bar with 30 officers participating. As a result of the raid, Lefatia was charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, meth, which carries a jail term from five to ten years and a fine between $5,000 and $20,000.
She was also charged with three counts of unlawful possession of a weapon and each charge is a class A misdemeanor, punishable with up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.
However in a plea agreement with the government, one of the three misdemeanor counts was amended to illegal possession of firearm ammunition, which the defendant pleaded guilty to, while the rest of the charges were dismissed.
Lefatia was sentenced to one year in jail however execution of sentence was suspended and she was placed on a two-year probation with the condition that she serves 90 days in jail. She was also ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 and to remain a law-abiding citizen and was not allowed to be in possession of drugs.
During the 2015 search, police uncovered drug paraphernalia; three digital scales, cut up straws; pills believed to be oxycodone (an opioid pain medication, sometimes called a narcotic and used to treat moderate to severe pain), scissors with burnt tips and a glass pipe allegedly containing meth, which was found inside a pool stick case that was found in Lefatia’s bedroom. Police also found cash in the amount of $4,184.