‘Spunky-Du’ convicted of receiving stolen property in 2016 — upgrades to burglary charge
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of burglarizing a home in Nu’uuli last year has been arrested and is now in custody, with bail set at $25,000. When police apprehended Melipa Taulele, they allegedly found an illegal substance in his bag.
Taulele, who was convicted for receiving stolen property in 2016 and was placed on probation for two years, made his initial appearance in District Court last month.
The government charged Taulele in two separate cases.
In the first case, he is charged with two counts of second degree burglary and two counts of stealing, both class C felonies, punishable by up to 7 years in jail, 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 $20K, or both such fine and imprisonment.
In the second case, Taulele is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth), and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both felonies, punishably by imprisonment from 5 to 10 years, a fine of up to $20,000 or both.
Preliminary examination is scheduled for next week.
If he posts bond, apart from the usual restrictions, the court also ordered Taulele not to set foot in the home where the alleged crime took place nor should he attempt to make any physical contact with the couple who owns the house.
On December 20th, 2020, a woman called police to report that her Nu’uuli home had been burglarized. When cops arrived, they observed that several bedrooms had been ransacked and the back door was damaged.
According to the caller, on Dec. 18th, she instructed her son and two of her employees to secure the house and make sure all doors were locked after they cleaned up the yard. The woman said her son and the two employees went to the house and everything was squared away, they even turned the lights on and locked all doors before they left.
The next day, Dec. 19th, around 6p.m, the woman, her son — along with the two employees — returned to the house and noticed that the lights were off, the front screen door was locked from the inside and the back door was damaged. The women inspected the property and found that some of her belongings were on the ground in the back yard. The house had been ransacked, with several items stolen.
The woman also checked the small warehouse located at the back of the main house and found that it too was burglarized — several power tools that were kept inside were stolen.
Police spoke to an eyewitness on Christmas morning, Dec. 25th regarding the alleged burglary and the witness told cops that at a little past midnight on Dec. 18th, she and her husband observed three young male individuals walking around the house with flashlights. She said they asked the three young men what they were looking for and one of them said they were looking for the person that broke into their house a few moments ago.
The eyewitness told police that the person who responded to her question looked familiar to her. He looked like the young kid who lived next to the house of a friend in Malaeimi.
According to the witness, the two male individuals walked around the house and the yard before they disappeared into the brush.
Police also questioned the husband of the first witness, who gave investigators a huge lead in their case, saying that one of the men he saw that night is known as “Spunky-Du”. According to this second witness, he was wearing a white t-shirt and black pants on that night.
‘Spunky-Du’ was later identified as Melipa Taulele, the defendant in this case. According to the government, the defendant has a criminal record. He was convicted with receiving stolen property in High Court and two misdemeanor-stealing cases in District Court.
Investigators spoke to another witness, who stated that on the night of the alleged incident, he saw Taulele’s black pick-up truck parked in a dark area close to the house that was ransacked in Nu’uuli.
The witness further stated to police that he asked Taulele why his pick up truck was parked on that side of the road, and Taulele told him he was waiting for his girlfriend who was picking up her laptop and clothes.
According to the third witness, Taulele was wearing black pants and a white shirt. The description matched the description the second witness had given to police of the color of the clothes Spunky-Du, a.k.a Taulele wore on the night of the alleged crime.
On the morning of July 24th, 2021, a 29-year-old male, a former inmate at the TCF, contacted police and said he knew who burglarized his aunt’s home in Nu’uuli.
According to him, a man involved gave him a pair of shoes, which he turned over to police, who later returned them to the victim.
The witness told police that while he was eating at a restaurant in the Tafuna area on the night of July 23rd, Taulele asked him if he wanted to buy a new pair of shoes for $25. Taulele, told the witness that he really needed money to pay for his sister’s bill at the LBJ hospital and that why he’s (Taulele) starting to sell some of the items he doesn’t need to get money for him and his family.
The witness gave Taulele $30 and Taulele handed over to the witness a new pair of sports shoes, along with two new t-shirts. The next morning, the witness contacted police and informed them about the items he received from Taulele.
Two days later, a female investigator spoke to Taulele’s girlfriend, and asked her to set up a meeting with Taulele. The plan was not to let Taulele know that police would show up.
Taulele agreed to meet his girlfriend at a store and several cops turned up and apprehended him. Taulele was cuffed and placed in the police unit, but he then attempted to flee by jumping through the open driver’s side window.
When questioned, Taulele allegedly admitted to the burglary and described the incident.
He said his partners took some items but didn’t know what they were, adding that he returned some stuff to the victim and he was trying to figure out how to return the rest of the stolen items.
When asked if the 29-year-old witness accompanied him during the burglary, Taulele said no. He said the witness was his best friend, and he sold him a new pair of sport shoes several months after the alleged incident for $30.
Before Taulele was interviewed, a body search was carried out, where police found two small baggies containing a white crystalline substance and one hand rolled cigarette containing green leafy substance.
The white crystalline substance tested positive for meth, while the green leafy substance tested positive for THC, the active compound in marijuana.
When asked about the two baggies containing meth and the hand rolled marijuana cigarette, Taulele said it was a gift from one of his friends in Iliili after he gave him several of the power tools he had stolen from the Nu’uuli home.
According to the victim, a male came by and returned several stolen items to her, saying the items were bought from Taulele on an unknown day and time. The man further told police that in the month of December of last year, he received clothes and an electric drill from Taulele.