Man on probation arrested for violating local drug laws
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who is on probation for stealing and burglary is now in custody after being arrested by police last month and charged for violating local drug laws.
William Pania made his initial appearance in District Court last month.
He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both unclassified felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five nor more than ten years and a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $20,000, or both; along with one count of resisting arrest, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to 5 years, a fine of $5,000, or both.
Bail is set $15,000.
Pania is scheduled to appear in court next week for his preliminary hearing (PX).
On Feb. 06, 2021, three police officers who were patrolling in Iliili observed a black truck turning right onto a family property without any signal. Officers immediately initiated a traffic stop and saw there was only one individual in the vehicle. He was William Pania, the defendant in this matter.
Officers approached Pania in an effort to inform him about the reason for the traffic stop, however, as officers tried to speak to the driver, they observed the driver holding in his hand a yellow envelope. Pania tried to open his door in an effort to step outside of the vehicle but he was informed by officers to stay inside the vehicle.
Pania did not comply and he forcibly opened his door and stepped outside of the vehicle. One officer tried to stop Pania but he pushed the officer away and tried to walk to the back of the vehicle while still holding the yellow envelope in his right hand.
Officers informed Pania one more time to get back into the vehicle and hand over the yellow envelope. At last, Pania agreed and complied with officers’ instructions to get back inside the vehicle.
A police officer instructed the driver to hand over the yellow envelope. Pania threw the yellow envelope to the other side of the road about 10ft from where his vehicle was parked. Inside the yellow envelope, officers discovered a glass pipe containing methamphetamine.
Officers requested his driver’s license and the driver again refused to comply, refusing to provide a valid driver’s license or any form of identification document but only verbally stating that his name is Junior.
Officers then informed the driver that his vehicle would be impounded and he was being detained at the Tafuna Police Sub-Station (TPS) for further investigation. That’s when the driver pushed one of the police officers while at the same time opening his door in an attempt to run away from police. Officers immediately apprehended the defendant at the scene.
The driver continued to resist, yelling profanities and fighting off officers. He was later transported to the TPS.
During the interview, Pania was informed of an outstanding bench warrant issued by the High Court for his arrest, and served with it.
Pania was patted down and officers discovered a glass pipe containing white crystalline substance inside his underwear waistband, as well as a medium sized baggie containing a white substance in his front pocket.
An inventory-search of Pania’s impounded vehicle was also conducted in Pania’s presence, where upon officers discovered two baggies that contained green leafy substances in the armrest between the driver and the front passenger seats.
Information regarding Pania’s case was later transferred to the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit for further investigation.
The white crystalline substance discovered in Pania’s possession tested positive for methamphetamine. The green leafy substances were also tested with the result testing positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active compound in the controlled substance marijuana.
Later on that day, Pania was Mirandized where he stated that he understood and wished not to sign the first portion of the form and would sign on the second portion (waiver) to a verbal statement regarding the incident.
According to Pania, he went to his friend’s house to pick up his tool box to fix his vehicle and his friend gave him drugs. He stated to police that he was on way back home when officers pulled over his vehicle.
Two years ago in July of 2019, Pania was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000 after he was convicted of stealing and burglary. He admits that in January of 2019 he unlawfully entered his neighbor’s house late at night and stole items from the house.