Man arrested for allegedly stealing a phone, gets charged for illegal drugs too
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man with an outstanding warrant for stealing is now charged with unlawful possession of illegal drugs after police discovered them in his possession.
Makesi Poloma made his initial appearance in court last month.
The government has filed two separate cases against Poloma.
In the first case, Poloma is charged with stealing, a class C felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to seven 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.
Bail in this case is set at $5,000.
In the second case, Poloma is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit; methamphetamine (meth), a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five or more than ten years and a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $20,000, or both.
Bail in this case is also set at $5,000.
THE UNLAWFUL POSSESSION CASE
On Dec. 20, 2021 several police officers conducting a routine patrol on the public highway of Iliili village observed a vehicle heading west driven by Makesi Poloma, who had an outstanding warrant. Officers followed Poloma who is the defendant in this matter, and observed him parking in front of a store.
Two officers approached Poloma while he was sitting in his vehicle and informed him of the outstanding warrant in his name. He refused to leave the vehicle and attempted to turn his vehicle back on, but officers grabbed Poloma’s hand and stopped him from starting the vehicle.
But Poloma resisted by removing his hand from the officers, and after several moments of scuffling with Poloma, the officers were able to pull Poloma out of the vehicle and place handcuffs on him. He was then transported to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS).
It was during transportation to TPS that Poloma asked one of the officers to help him, but the officer told Poloma that whatever he wanted to speak about had to wait until they got to the TPS. Poloma then told the officer that he had a straw containing meth on him.
When the police unit arrive at the TPS parking lot, Poloma asked the police officer again to help him by getting rid of the straw containing meth and he would return the favor if he’s released.
Again, the officer told Poloma to wait until they got inside TPS and then he would get a chance to say whatever he wanted to say to the investigators.
Upon arrival at the TPS, Poloma was presented with copies of the outstanding warrant in his name. Poloma was then informed that they needed to conduct an inventory search on the rental vehicle he was driving and Poloma agreed.
The inventory search discovered three straws about an inch long and a glass pipe — the three straws and the glass pipe all contained a white crystalline substance.
The matter was then transferred to the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit (VNU) for further investigation.
When questioned by investigators from the VNU, after he was Mirandized, Poloma stated that he understood his rights and he wished to make a verbal statement to investigators. He explained to investigators that the reason he was hiding from law enforcement was because he’s doing illegal stuff, such as drugs.
He stated that the drugs discovered in the rental car did not belong to him, but to his cousin who rented the car two days prior to the arrest. He said he borrowed the rental car from his cousin because his wife and children were using the family vehicle for shopping.
However, he was shocked when he got inside the vehicle and discovered the three straws containing white crystalline substance. Out of carelessness, Poloma said he then picked up the straws and put them under the passenger’s seat.
When asked about his cousin’s identification, Poloma did not reply.
Poloma was then transported to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) where he was booked and confined.
THE STEALING CASE FROM 2019
On Oct. 23 , 2019, the manager of a store in Tafuna called the TPS regarding an item stolen from the store. Several police officers responded to the call to investigate the matter.
Officers interviewed the store manager along with several employees regarding the stolen item from the store. The stolen item was a Galaxy Note 4X phone, and the male, who stole the phone was later identified as Makesi Poloma, the defendant in this matter.
Security footage was checked and it confirmed that Poloma left the store with the phone in his possession. When asked by officers how he came to identify Poloma, the employee who gave Poloma the phone told officers that he and Poloma both are from Tafuna.
It was five days later that Poloma was arrested and was taken into the TPS for questioning in a drug case. While questioning Poloma, a police sergeant recalled the matter of the stolen phone from the store.
Poloma was asked about the cell phone alleged to have been stolen five days previously, and he stated that on Oct. 28, he went back to the store to return the cellphone and paid $100 and the matter was settled with the owner.
Investigators contacted the the store’s manager and the manager told investigators that Poloma had shown up the next day but she stopped him from entering the store until he brought back the phone, and according to the manager he has not returned the phone and she has not seen him since.
The Galaxy 4X cell phone was being sold at store for $465.
Poloma, along with his brother and his wife were arrested and charged in April of last year on the allegation that they assaulted a man and his brother.