Probationer is back in jail for allegedly assaulting a man in Pago
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 42-year-old taxi driver accused of disturbing the peace inside a Pago Pago store is now being charged with drug possession after police searched his vehicle and found 2 small baggies containing marijuana.
Vilima’a Togiaso, who is on probation for a stealing conviction 4 years ago, made his initial appearance in District Court this week. Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Jason Mitchell, while Assistant Public Defender Bod Stuart is representing the defendant.
Togiaso is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, a felony punishable by 5-10 years in jail, a fine of $5,000-$20,000; and 4 misdemeanors: public peace disturbance; third degree property damage; driving under the influence of alcohol; and third degree assault.
Bail is set at $5,000 and the preliminary examination is Sept. 27th at 1p.m.
The court denied a defense motion to reduce bail to $1,500
A man who witnessed a verbal argument between two men outside of a store in Pago Pago last Sunday night contacted police for assistance, after the driver of a white cab allegedly pushed another man and punched him in the face.
Police arrived at the scene and noticed a crowd forming in front of the store, while a man was sitting on the ground, blocking the other side of the parking lot.
As cops approached the crowd, a white taxi that was parked in front of the store pulled out and left the scene, heading east towards the cannery. Eyewitnesses immediately informed officers that the driver of the white cab that had just left was the man who punched the victim.
According to the caller, he was sitting inside his vehicle with his wife and 9-year-old daughter when two men started arguing to the left of them. He told police he heard the cab driver (the defendant) tell the other man (the victim) to reprimand his son before he does something to him.
The witness said he saw the driver punch the victim once in the face, causing the victim to fall to the ground. Another eyewitness told police that the incident started from inside the store. The two men had argued in front of the cashier and the exchange spilled out to the parking lot.
The eyewitness told police he could smell alcohol on the driver when he passed him.
A police unit was able to locate the white taxi on the Leloaloa road and immediately pulled it over. The driver was later identified as Vilimaa Togiaso, the defendant. Togiaso admitted to police that it was he who assaulted the man in front of a store in Pago Pago because that man’s son broke into his sister’s home and stole many personal belongings.
During a body search, police found in Togiaso’s pants pocket, 2 small baggies containing green leaves which later tested positive as marijuana. When asked about the weed, Togiaso told police he bought the two small baggies from an old friend in Tafuna.
Togiaso further admitted that he had consumed alcohol prior to the incident in Pago Pago.
Police were able to speak to the victim at the LBJ Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries to his left eye. According to the victim, he was standing in line to pay for his shopping when Togiaso approached him and told him in a loud voice to return all the stuff his son stole from his sister’s home.
The victim told Togiaso he didn’t know what he was talking about, but he will talk to his son regarding the allegation. On his way to his vehicle, the victim said Togiaso followed him and continued to harass him about the same issue. It was then that he told Togiaso to shut up. That’s when Togiaso punched him in the eye, causing him to fall down.
In July 2015, Togiaso was sentenced to 7 years probation after he pled guilty to stealing. As a condition of probation, he was ordered to remain law abiding, serve 28 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), and pay restitution of $651.