Man faces charges for burglary, stealing, not paying traffic fines, illegal drugs, assault… and the list goes on
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man with an outstanding arrest warrant for burglary and stealing, along with traffic fines is in custody after he was arrested by police at the EOB parking lot last month.
When asked by investigators about his alleged involvement in a burglary and stealing case in Malaeimi last year, Aulata Tifaga told police that he had no knowledge of the case. He told investigators that he’s not a criminal nor has he broken into any homes in the village.
Tifaga made his initial appearance in court last month. The government charged him in two separate cases.
In the first case, Tifaga is charged with one count of stealing and one count of second degree burglary and one count of stealing, both class C felonies, punishable by up to 7 years in jail, a $5,000 fine of pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of the crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both the fine and imprisonment for each count.
In the second case, the defendant is charged with one count of unlawful possession of marijuana and one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth), both unclassified felonies; one count of resisting arrest, a class D felony, and three misdemeanors charges including one count of endangering the welfare of a child; 3rd degree assault and public peace disturbance.
Bail is set at $15,000.
If he posts bond, the court ordered Tifaga to pay his outstanding fines of $415, stay away from the victim’s house and not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs.
It was on Aug 29th, 2021 when an off-duty police officer observed a man arguing with another man at the LBJ Medical Hospital parking lot. One of the men involved in the argument is the defendant, who was later identified as Aulata Tifaga.
According to the government’s case, the off-duty police officer witnessed the incident.
During the argument, Tifaga walked over to the other man, spoke with him for a moment, before he punched the man in the face. Tifaga also slapped the back of the head of a juvenile boy, who was later identified as the son of the man Tifaga allegedly punched. The boy is 15 years old.
The man Tifaga’s punched walked over to Tifaga and asked him why he assaulted his son. Tifaga attempted to walked away but the man he assaulted grabbed his right land and tried to stop him from walking away.
The man told Tifaga that he don’t mind what he did to him but he did not accept the fact that he assaulted his son for no reason. Tifaga pulled his hand from the man’s hand and walked away.
After taking few steps, he turned back, walked back over to the man and punched him again in the face.
Tifaga then turned and walked back to his vehicle and drove away, making his way to the Utulei area and went to the EOB parking lot before his vehicle was pulled over by police and he was taken into custody for questioning.
Before Tifaga was taken into custody, a body search was conducted and officers discovered a brown envelope inside a back bag Tifaga was carrying. Inside the brown envelope were four medium sized baggies. Three baggies contained green leafy substance while one medium baggie contained white crystalline substance.
The man and the 15-year-old who are the victims in this case were also questioned by police.
According to the man’s statement, he went to pick up his wife medication from the LBJ Pharmacy while his son was waiting inside their vehicle parked at the LBJ parking lot, next to Tifaga’s vehicle. Tifaga was also at the other side of the LBJ Hospital.
When the man exited the store, he saw his son standing between his vehicle and Tifaga’s vehicle. His son was playing with his phone while leaning on the door of Tifaga’s vehicle. Furthermore, his son had placed his soda can and bag of chips on the hood of Tifaga’s vehicle.
As the victim’s son was playing with his phone while leaning on Tifaga’s vehicle, Tifaga yelled out to the boy to get away from his vehicle. The boy did not listen, and continued to play with his phone.
The government alleges that it was at that time Tifaga walked over to his vehicle and pulled the boy away from the side of his vehicle by the collar of his shirt. Tifaga also slapped the boy on the back of his head causing him to cry.
Tifaga then grabbed the boy’s soda can and chips, threw them on the ground.
The boy’s father called out to Tifaga about assaulting his son. Tifaga walked over to where the boy’s father was standing and explained the reason for his actions. A verbal argument erupted between the two men, which resulted in Tifaga punching the boy’s father.
When questioned by police regarding the alleged incident, Tifaga said that he was mad when the boy leaned his vehicle ; and, when he grabbed the boy in an effort to pull him away from his vehicle, the boy yelled profanities at him. That is when he slapped the boy on the back of his head.
Tifaga also admitted that he assaulted the boy’s father twice.
The boy denied Tifaga’s allegation that he (the boy) swore at him. The boy told investigators that the man (Tifaga) never said anything to him. He just rushed out to him, grabbed him by the collar of his shirt before slapping his face multiple times.
When asked about the illegal drugs found in his possession, Tifaga told investigators that the drugs do not belong to him, but to his brother’s friend who owns the bag. He told investigators he didn’t know that there were illegal drugs inside the bag until police pulled him over and searched the vehicle.
During the interview process, investigators were informed that there is an active warrant for Tifaga pursuant to an old case from last year, where he is accused of burglarizing a home in Malaeimi.
THE BURGLARY CASE
The government claims that on Jan. 24th, 2020, a couple contacted the Fagatogo Police Station regarding four young men who allegedly broke into their home while they were at a church meeting.
In March of 2020, two months after the alleged burglary, a 16-year-old boy told the family who owned the house that was burglarized that his older brother and his three juvenile friends committed the crime.
When questioned about his brother’s name, the witness told investigators that his older brother’s name is Aulata Tifaga.
Investigators questioned one of the juveniles allegedly involved in the burglary.
The juvenile described the incident to investigators in the presence of his mother — and said he acted as a ‘lookout’, sitting inside Tifaga’s vehicle at Tifaga’s request, while Tifaga, along with 2 other young men burglarized the house.
The juvenile told investigators that Tifaga broke into the house, bringing out a laptop, 2 bluetooth speakers, a Mac computer and a Nikon camera, all inside a black bag. Tifaga also stole clothes, shoes, and several other electronic devices.
Tifaga gave the juvenile the camera and told him to sell it and never say anything about the burglary. When asked about the camera, the juvenile told investigators that he sold it to a friend for $100.
When asked about the burglary, Tifaga agreed to speak to investigators regarding the alleged burglary case.
He told investigators that it was his friend, Big E’s plan to burglarized the home while the couple was away. Tifaga stated to investigators that his friend “big-E” lived a few blocks from the couple’s house and he was familiar with the family’s lifestyle.
Tifaga said the items were stolen to sell to other people to get money to buy beer and food for them.