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Tafuna man pleads guilty to meth after taxi driver rats him out

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 53-year-old man charged with unlawful possession of meth has pled out.

Manu Leleiga, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond, appeared in court this past Thursday morning for a change of plea hearing.

He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, while prosecuting was Assistant Attorney General Doug Lowe.

Leleiga was initially charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) with the intent to distribute; and unlawful possession of methamphetamine, both felonies that carry a jail term of up to 20 years, a fine of up to $20,000 or both.

Under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Leleiga pled guilty to the amended count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) a class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

With his plea, Leleiga admits that on July 21, 2018 he unlawfully possessed 2 small baggies and 2 glass pipes containing meth. The items were discovered during a police search of his Tafuna home.

The case against Leleiga came about after a taxi driver was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a glass pipe containing meth. When questioned by police, the taxi driver said the glass pipe containing meth that was found inside his vehicle was from a man named “Scotty”.

(Scotty is Leleiga’s alias).

The taxi driver told police that he buys a glass pipe with meth from ‘Scotty’ every Friday for $30, and he smokes it with his friends at his Utulei home.

During the search, police found drugs, cash, empty small baggies that contained meth residue, and cut up straws [commonly] used to sell drugs, at Leleiga’s home.

Leleiga will be sentenced Aug. 8th.