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By La Poasa

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (Samoa News, Nov. 1) - Former police officer Sam Tupuola has been charged with two counts of unlawful possession of methamphetamine - "ice" and marijuana in connection with a traffic stop in Gataivai on Oct. 22.

He made his initial appearance yesterday in District Court.

Co-defendant Sa'ouasoali'i Siavi'i is facing similar charges and his case has been bound over to the High Court.

Tupuola was with Siavi'i and a female individual in a car that was pulled over by police for reckless driving. Siavi'i was the driver.

The criminal complaint states that after the police officer observed the driver having symptoms of intoxication, he impounded the vehicle and Tupuola allegedly discarded a small plastic bag "of the exact size and type commonly used for packaging methamphetamine for street sale, the government's case claims.

According to the criminal complaint, the vehicle was searched and the police found a black case in the center console between the two front seats. A glass pipe "of the kind that is used for smoking methamphetamine, seven empty "dime bags" and two cut straws; one of them had a small plastic bag stuffed into it, according to the complaint. The government's case further claims that this bag contained "ice" following a test of the substance. The complaint says the search also uncovered a gray bag on the back seat that had a bag containing marijuana.

Tupuola had nothing to say except to deny any knowledge of the drugs found in the vehicle.

The complaint also alleges that Tupuola was highly intoxicated, although the officer said he could not detect any odor of alcohol in his breath.

"He had a gray pouch slung over his shoulder, which contained his driver's license, a gram scale, a cut straw of the same kind found in the eyeglasses case, a glass smoking pipe of the type used to smoke "ice", and several empty "dime bags" like the ones found in the eyeglasses case," according to the complaint.

Tupuola is being held at the Territorial Correctional Facility without bail. His next court appearance is on Thursday, Nov. 3. He is being represented by the Public Defender's Office.

Each count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance is punishable by a mandatory term of imprisonment of not less than five nor more than ten years and/or a fine of not less than five thousand nor more than twenty thousand dollars. The case is being prosecuted by acting deputy Attorney General Frederick J. O'Brien.

November 2, 2005

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