Two men appear in court for illegal drugs and to answer to outstanding bench warrants
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Two men arrested last month during a traffic stop on the allegation that illegal drugs were found in their possession are now charged with violating local drug laws. Both men also had outstanding bench warrants for failing to appear in District court during their Probation Review hearings last year.
The driver, Henry Tavita, and the passenger, Mauigoa Foma’i, made their initial appearances in District Court two weeks ago.
Tavita is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony, while Foma’i is charged with one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, also a felony.
Bail for both men is set at $5,000 each, and the preliminary examination is Wednesday, next week, Sept. 30th.
On Sept. 2nd, patrolling police officers conducted a traffic stop on a pickup truck after it didn’t stop at a stop sign in Leone. The driver was also not wearing a seat belt when his vehicle was pulled over. It was later discovered that both the driver and the passenger had outstanding bench warrants.
According to the traffic officers, after stopping the truck they found Tavita, who was the driver, could not produce a driver’s license. The passenger was later identified as Foma’i.
While police officers tried to explain to Tavita the reason for the traffic stop, Tavita told officers that they had no right to pull over his vehicle. He raised his voice and told the officer who was standing next to his window that he didn’t want to go to jail.
However, both men were taken in for questioning.
Prior to that, a pat down of both men, netted a clear glass pipe containing a useable amount of a white crystalline substance in Tavita’s left pocket; and, a small baggie containing a green leafy substance in Foma’i’s right pocket.
The white crystalline and green leafy substances were tested and the results were positive for methamphetamine and marijuana, respectively.
In their first interview with investigators, Tavita refused to give any statement. He told investigators that he needed to speak to his attorney before he issued any statement regarding the incident, however, after Foma’i agreed to discuss the matter with investigators, Tavita later agreed to issue a statement.
Foma’i told police that he was at his house in Leone when Tavita came by and asked him to come for a ride with him. He agreed and they left the house.
Foma’i said that there was one point where they stopped at a house in Vaitogi and Tavita went to the house while he was waiting inside the vehicle. Outside the house, Foma’i saw two men standing under a breadfruit tree waiting for Tavita. He saw Tavita shake hands with one of the two men before Tavita returned to the vehicle.
On their way back to Leone, Foma’i said Tavita kept the baggie containing meth and gave him the baggie containing marijuana leaves [for free].