Man, just out of jail for stealing, back in court again… for stealing
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who is on probation for stealing and burglary is now back in court on another stealing allegation. Police arrested Tili Naasona two months after he was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) after serving a 28-month detention.
Naasona made his initial appearance in District Court last month. During his initial appearance, he asked the court for a preliminary examination (PX).
Naasona is charged with stealing, a class felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine or pursuant to A.S.C.A , 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 is set at $15,000.
If he posts bond, Naasona is ordered to remain law abiding, not leave or attempt to leave the territory without the court’s permission, and not make any direct or indirect contact with the government’s witnesses, including the victim, which is the owner of an Asian store in the Tafuna area.
On Aug. 29th, 2020, the owner of an Asian store in Tafuna walked into the Tafuna Police Substation to report a crime committed by an unknown person where allegedly several items were stolen from her store.
The owner of the store told investigators that a male individual walked inside her store on the morning of Aug. 22nd and made his way to the side where the display table was located. He walked around for a few moments while trying to see if there was anybody looking at him.
He then reached out to the phone located on the display table and removed it, placed it inside his backpack and continued to walk around inside the store. His next move was to take the iPad located on the display table and place it inside his backpack and quickly walk outside of the store and disappear.
According to the owner, the perpetrator’s action on the day of the alleged incident was recorded on video camera, which was noticed by a representative of the company two days after the alleged incident, and that is when police were contacted.
Investigators got a copy of the video footage from the store, which confirmed the statement given to police. The person in the video footage was later identified by one of the police sergeants as Tili Naasona, the defendant in this matter.
The owner of the company told investigators this is not the first time this person has stolen items from the company and told investigators that in May 2020, Naasona entered the store late at night and stole several items from the store and fled the area. Three days later, Naasona’s mother walked into the store and paid for the items her son had stolen.
Investigators obtained an arrest warrant from the court, and in October 2020, Naasona was apprehended at his home and transported to the TPS for questioning where he was Mirandized. Naasona told investigators he understood his rights and he wanted to tell his side of the story.
Naasona told investigators that he was just released from TCF in the beginning of July after serving almost 3 years for stealing, burglary and escape from confinement. Two months after his release, he went to an Asian store in the area to meet his girlfriend however, everything went wrong when he entered the store and allegedly took the phone and an iPad.
Once he got the stolen items, he did not wait for his girlfriend but changed his plan and returned home with the stolen items.
According to Naasona, he gave the phone to a friend of his to use, and his friend gave him $80 for the phone. Investigators were able to retrieve the phone from the defendant’s friend and return it to the owner of the store.
When asked about the iPad, Naasona said he gave it to a man from Vaitogi in exchange for drugs.
Naasona was released to go home after he was interviewed by investigators. He promised that he would turn in the iPad to investigators. Last month, he was arrested by police pursuant to an arrest warrant from the court.
Naasona is still on probation from a 2017 conviction. His probation will expire in 2024.
It was during the PX where the government called their only witness to the stand, Officer Jimmy Mose, who was the lead investigator in this case. Mose told the court that the investigation identified Naasona as going inside the store with the intention of stealing a phone and an iPad for himself.
The government’s witness said that only the phone was recovered and returned to the owner of the store, the iPad was never found.
in cross examination, the defense attorney asked the government witness the reason why the case against his client was reported to police five days after the alleged incident. The witness told the court that the store owner only knew about the incident five days after when they viewed their cameras.
Defense attorney asked the witness again how he was so sure that it was his client who was the person of interest in this case. The government witness told the court that when the team of investigators viewed the video footage from the store, it was at that time when a police sergeant who knew the suspect from a previous case easily identified him from the video footage.
After hearing evidence of the case, the court found probable cause to bind Naasona’s case to the High Court for arraignment.
Naasona entered a not guilty plea to the single charge against him when he appeared in High Court last week for his arraignment. His next hearing in court is set for April of this year.
According to court files, Naasona has a long criminal history with the court since he was 16 years old.
In 2017, he was initially charged in 3 separate cases — one with stealing; another included 5 counts of stealing; while the third was one count of escape from confinement, and the misdemeanor charge of alluding police officers.
Under a plea agreement with the government, Naasona agreed to plead guilty to stealing in the first case; and 2 counts of stealing and 1 count of first degree burglary in the second case. In return, the remaining charges were dismissed.
Items he allegedly stole in the three separate robberies in 2017 were thousands of dollars worth of electronics, which included Samsung tablets, Apple iPads, computer scanners, laptops, television sets, and speakers.
Naasona was 23 years old when he appeared before the court for sentencing in December 2017. According to Probation, Naasona dropped out of school when he was 11 years old.
In the first case where Naasona was convicted of stealing, he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 7 years.
In the second case where the defendant was convicted to two counts of stealing and 1 count of burglary in the first degree, the court sentenced him to a term of imprisonment of 7 years for each count.
The defendant’s sentences were to run concurrently.
Execution of sentences was then suspended, and Naasona was placed on probation for 7 years under certain conditions, including serving a period of detention of 28 months in prison. Upon release from prison, he was ordered to seek and obtain gainful employment within 90 days of his release.