Man questioned in burglary case, denies involvement saying “I am not a criminal”
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man with an outstanding arrest warrant for stealing and traffic fines is in custody after he was arrested outside of the courthouse last month.
When asked by investigators about his alleged involvement in a burglary case in Petesa last year, Anesi Tifaga told police that he had no knowledge of a burglary case. He further stated to investigators that he’s not a criminal nor did he break into any home in the village.
It was on June 12, 2020 when an off-duty police officer observed a man arguing with another man in the LBJ Medical Hospital parking lot. One of the men involved in the argument is the defendant, who was later identified as Anesi Tifaga.
According to the government’s case, Tifaga allegedly assaulted a man in the LBJ parking lot twice, after Tifaga had slapped the back of the head of a 14-year-old boy, who was later identified as the son of the man Tifaga allegedly punched.
The argument began when the man Tifaga punched reportedly walked over to Tifaga and asked him why he had assaulted his son. The man told Tifaga that he didn’t mind what he did to him, but he did not accept the fact that he assaulted his son for no reason.
After punching the man in the face a second time, Tifaga turned and walked to his vehicle and drove away, making his way to the back of the Fagatogo area before his vehicle was pulled over by police and he was taken into custody for questioning.
Before Tifaga was taken into custody, cops conducted a body search and during the search, officers discovered a brown envelope inside a backpack 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 14-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’s medication from the LBJ Pharmacy while his son was waiting inside their vehicle parked at the LBJ parking lot, next to Tifaga’s vehicle.
When the man exited, 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. His son had also placed his soda can 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 playing with his phone while leaning on the side of the defendant’s vehicle.
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.
The boy’s father called out to Tifaga about assaulting his son, and Tifaga walked over to the boy’s father and explained to him the reason for his action. A verbal argument erupted between the two men, which resulted in Tifaga punching the boy’s father. He then walked away but apparently turned back and according to the government, Tifaga assaulted the man again.
When questioned by police regarding the alleged incident, Tifaga said that he was mad when the boy leaned on his vehicle. 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 by punching him in the eye after he called out to him. After a brief confrontation he then assaulted the boy’s father again.
When asked about the illegal drugs found in his possession, Tifaga told investigators that the drugs did not belong to him, but to his brother’s friend who owns the bag. He told investigators his brother’s friend borrowed his vehicle for four days and when he got his vehicle back, he found a bag on the back of the seat. He did not 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 Tafega.
THE BURGLARY CASE
The government claims that on Jan. 14th, 2019, 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 2019, two months after the alleged burglary, a 16-year-old boy told the family who owned the house that his older brother and his two young friends including a person by the name of Anesi Tifaga committed the crime.
The juvenile described the incident to investigators in the presence of his mother — he said he was the ‘lookout’ per request of Tifaga, while his brother, Tifaga, along with a 17-year boy went inside the house to commit the crime.
When asked about the burglary, Tifaga agreed to speak to investigators regarding the alleged burglary.
He told investigators that it was his friend Big Willie’s plan to burglarize the victims’ home while the couple was away. Tifaga stated to investigators that his friend “big Willie” lived a few blocks away from the house and he was familiar with the family’s lifestyle.
Items stolen from the victim’s house were sold to other people to get money to buy beer and food.
Tifaga made his initial appearance in court last week. 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, Tifaga is charged with one count of unlawful possession of marijuana and one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, 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 $715, stay away from the victims’ house and not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs.