Man who allegedly burglarized two homes in Leone apprehended
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man with a prior conviction for stealing told police after he was arrested last month for allegedly breaking into two homes in Leone that the items he stole were given out to his friends while other items were sold to get drugs from a place in Vaitogi.
When police arrested the suspect, the officers discovered illegal drugs in his possession.
Arona Ioelu Jr, also known as Kiuga Ioelu made his initial appearance in court last month.
Ioelu, 29, is charged in two separate cases. In the first case, Ioelu is charged with two counts of 1st degree burglary; two counts of stealing, both class C felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 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 for each count.
In the second case, Ioelu is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both unclassified felonies, punishable by imprisonment from 5-10 years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both; along with one count of public peace disturbance, a misdemeanor.
Bail is set at $15,000.
If he posts bond, Ioelu 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 victims.
The matter surfaced after police received a complaint from two Leone families regarding their homes being burglarized by unknown people while they were away from home.
According to the government’s case, the first home was allegedly burglarized on the night of May 23, 2020; while the second home was burglarized four days after the first incident, on May 27th.
The first victim told police that she was at her aunty’s home in Pava’ia’i when the alleged burglary took place. When she returned to the house the next morning, May 24, with her children, she observed that the side window was damaged and a few pieces of clothing were on the ground.
When she went inside to check on the house, she realized that somebody had broken into their home while they were away. Personal belongings were stolen including her daughter’s laptop; two fine mats; two gold earrings; two pairs of Nike shoes; miscellaneous power tools; clothes and two cell phones.
Police officers responded to the scene and interviewed the family members and took photos of the crime scene.
While police were investigating the first alleged burglary, the second family reported the second burglary.
A woman, who contacted police, stated that her sister’s house, which is next to their home was burglarized by unknown people on the night of May 27, while they were attending her nephew’s birthday party at her brother’s home in Nu’uuli.
According to the woman, the people who allegedly committed the crime gained entrance from the back door and were able to get inside the master bedroom. The caller told police that she didn’t know what items were missing from her sister’s home but the house was ransacked and everything was a mess.
Several police officers responded to the call and were able to witness what happened to the second house. Officers interviewed the woman who reported the matter and immediately started their investigation.
A week into the investigation of the robberies of the two homes, a young female contacted her aunty, who is a police officer, and relayed to her some essential information that led to the arrest of the suspect in this case. The young female was identified as the ex-girlfriend of the suspect and she is now the key witness in the investigations.
Officers visited the home of the witness and asked her if they could speak with her regarding the alleged burglary of two homes in Leone. The witness agreed and willingly shared what she knew about the matter.
According to the witness, she had dated Kiuga (Arona Ioelu) for 10 months. On the night of Kiuga’s birthday, which was May 29th, she heard that Kiuga and his two close friends (their names were mentioned inside the affidavit) got some drugs from a man named “UNA” of Vaitogi.
The witness asked Kiuga how did he got his drugs from UNA, and Kiuga told her (witness) they sold several items to UNA for drugs.
Kiuga told the witness that he and his two friends burglarized two homes in Leone and stole several items from inside both houses. They kept some of the belonging for themselves while the power tools were sold off. They then used the money from selling the stolen items to buy their drugs from a man name UNA of Vaitogi.
According to the witness’ statement to police, Kiuga then gave her a pair of gold earrings, which she kept inside her closet. The victim returned the gold earring to police and it was later confirmed by the first victim that the earrings belonged to her.
Investigators visited the suspect’s home in an effort to speak to him regarding the matter but he was nowhere to be found.
Last month, police officers responded to a public peace disturbance in Faleniu where two men were making unreasonable noises in front of a store. Police arrived and apprehended only one man from the scene. The man was later identified as Arona Ioelu Jr, the defendant in this matter.
Before the defendant was transported to the police station for questioning, he was patted down, which netted a small stamped sized baggie containing white crystalline substance inside the defendant’s right pocket. A hand rolled marijuana joint also fell out of the defendant’s pocket.
The defendant was transported to the police station for questioning. After he was informed of his constitutional rights, the defendant told police that he understood his rights and wished to remain silent.
The defendant refused to offer any statement to police regarding the burglary with which allegedly he’s involved.