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Repeat offender is remanded to custody at the LBJ Behavioral Health Center

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — District Court Judge Pro Tem Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde has remanded repeat offender Rintel Iatala to the custody of the LBJ Behavioral Health Center for evaluation. A status hearing is set for next Thursday, April 18.

Iatala appeared in District Court yesterday morning for an initial appearance on the charge of criminal contempt.

According to the government's case, police were contacted for assistance after Iatala became unruly and was "acting violently", yelling profanities at home. When police arrived, they were told that Iatala had left.

He was later found behind an abandoned building next to the westbound lane of the main road in Amouli. When asked if he had been drinking, Iatala allegedly said yes, telling police he "drank all day."

Police say when Iatala was being questioned at the DPS Fagaitua substation, he "continuously moved around on his seat" and was "talking to himself." When asked what happened, Iatala refused to make a statement but continued to talk to himself.

Iatala is currently on probation for a prior matter and a condition of probation requires him to be alcohol and drug free.

Earlier this year in February, Iatala was charged with one count each of illegal possession of marijuana and illegal possession of methamphetamine, both felonies. Bail was set at $10,000

Presiding Judge Elvis P. Patea had found probable cause during a preliminary examination to bind that case over to High Court. This was after the lead investigator testified that an inventory of I'atala's property netted "a large plastic ziplock bag" which held a "glass pipe commonly used to smoke methamphetamine (ICE) with a usable amount of white substances inside."

Also found were two stamp-sized plastic baggies containing a 'white crystalline substance' that appeared to be meth. It is alleged that I'atala "spontaneously uttered that he has PTSD and he takes the drugs to calm him down."

In a written and verbal statement, I'atala allegedly revealed that he bought the meth from Vaitogi and the marijuana  from Aoa. "He said he takes the drugs for his anxiety and PTSD," the investigator said.

The dried leaves weighed about 14 grams and tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana; and the white crystalline substance from one of the plastic baggies tested positive for meth.

In addition to these two cases, Iatala was charged in two other cases filed last year.

He was charged with third degree assault and public peace disturbance in one of those cases, whereby he is alleged to have been walking on the road, armed with a machete, after allegedly cutting down his mother's clothesline and cracking empty beer bottles in front of her home.