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Last week’s court cases include DUI, assault and drugs

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who was arrested and charged two months ago for driving under the influence is now charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine — a class D felony.

Vineula Filipo made his initial appearance in District Court last week where he waived his right to a preliminary hearing. His case has been bound over to High Court.

Bond is set at $5,000 surety.

The government claims that Filipo’s vehicle was pulled over during a traffic stop because he was not wearing a seat belt. When Filipo was informed of why he was stopped, cops detected a strong odor of alcohol emitting from his breath. He was also seen trying to reach into the back seat.

The vehicle was impounded and during the search, cops discovered a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance, which tested positive for meth. When asked where he got the glass pipe, Filipo said his friend who works at a mechanic shop in Tafuna gave it to him in exchange for an old vehicle part.


The 44-year-old man convicted of unlawful possession of a glass pipe containing methamphetamine was sentenced last week to 5 years probation.

Fereti Tumau was initially charged with two drug offenses: unlawful possession of methamphetamine, and unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.

But under a plea agreement, he pled guilty to the lesser of the two felonies. The remaining charge was dismissed. Tumau admits that sometime during Apr. 19, 2019, he had on him a pipe used to smoke meth. After his arrest, Tumau spent 178 days behind bars before he posted $5,000 bail and released.

During sentencing, Tumau apologized and asked for another chance to be with his children and family. “I feel embarrassed but mostly disappointed that I've brought shame to my family. My actions have taken me away from my children. I tried my best to care for my 3 children and at the time, also supporting my mother and my siblings,” Tumau said, adding that the incident that led to his arrest was right after he had gotten out of a relationship.

He said although this is not an excuse for the choice he made, he takes full responsibility and he knows that being involved with drugs is an inappropriate reaction to his break-up.
Defense attorney Ryan Anderson asked the court to uphold Probation’s recommendation for a probated sentence. Prosecutor Laura Garvey supported the submission, saying the government believes Tumau is a suitable candidate for probation, and the court will manage his probation, which will give him time to change his life and address his drug problem.

Tumau was sentenced to 5 years probation, with conditions that include serving 20 months. He is being credited for time served - 178 days - and the balance of the 20-month detention period is stayed as long as he complies with all conditions of probation over the next 5 years.

He is also to remain drug and alcohol free. The court has given him 6 months to pay a $1,000 fine, and a month to clear all outstanding warrants and fines at the District Court.


A 26-year old man from Kokoland was arrested last week on the allegation that he assaulted an Asian man and stole his bag containing his wallet and a cell phone.

Valaau Asomau made his initial appearance in District Court last week where he entered a not guilty plea to third degree assault and stealing - both misdemeanors.

At around 9pm on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, police got an anonymous call regarding an Asian man being assaulted by a Samoan male in front of a Tafuna bus stop.

A male who was at the store - later identified as the victim - told police that he was  heading home when Asomau stopped him and asked for $2. When he pulled out his wallet, Asomau punched him in the face causing him to fall down.

Asomau then grabbed his wallet and kicked his back multiple times before taking off. As Asomau was assaulting the victim, he ordered the man to give him his phone. The victim said he was angry but scared so had no choice but to give up his phone.

Asomau was identified by an individual who lives in the area.

Police spotted Asomau walking with his girlfriend on a road close to his home. He was arrested and escorted to the police station. Cops say they detected a strong odor of alcohol on Asomau’s breath and he had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes.

Asomau refused to cooperate with police when asked about what happened. He kept saying that if he gets locked up, he’s never getting out because he’s already got a bench warrant for an old case.

When sked about the money and the phone he took from the victim, Asomau said he gave it to his girlfriend, whom police were unable to locate.

Asomau was released on his own recognizance and scheduled to appear next month for a pretrial conference.