The nine men who were arrested this week in Unalaska and charged with felony drug offenses have made their first appearances in court.
On Friday afternoon, police led Lua Aiava, 28, Allan Bautista, 44, Neuthon Costantini, 28, Ioane Faasavalu, 25, Tofa Matautia, 28, Ernie Oxinio, 30, Brandon Rosa, 21, Tyson Rosa, 24, and Stephen A. Rosa, 49, into the Unalaska courthouse.
The court gallery was packed with more than 20 friends, family, and members of the public.
Magistrate judge Kay Adams reviewed the cases by phone from Cordova. Based on charging documents filed by the Unalaska police department, Adams found probable cause to allow all of the cases to proceed.
Adams set bail for all nine defendants with input from assistant district attorney Aaron Peterson, who also participated in the hearing by phone.
The lowest bail was $10,000 for Oxinio, who is charged with one count of a class B felony for allegedly possessing methamphetamine with intent to sell it. Several defendants’ bail was set at $50,000, with a required third-party custodian.
But the highest bail requirements by far were those for Stephen A. Rosa. Rosa faces the most serious charges of the group. He’s accused of operating ”a continuing criminal enterprise” involving the sale of meth.
The state alleges that in the course of six weeks, Costantini, Faasavalu, Bautista, Rosa, and his sons — Brandon and Tyson — all sold meth to a confidential police informant.
Stephen A. Rosa is accused of supplying the meth for those sales, which were valued at about $3,000. Police say they recovered about $40,000 in cash from Stephen A. Rosa’s home and workplace, along with several firearms.
The state combined all those offenses into the unclassified felony charge, which carries a sentence of up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Stephen A. Rosa is being charged with 13 additional felonies for associated offenses ranging from allegedly selling meth, to illegally possessing guns despite being a convicted felon.
Like many of the other defendents, Rosa requested a court-appointed attorney at the hearings on Friday.
“I don’t think I can afford an attorney now,” Rosa said. “I’m not this bigshot you guys think I am.”
Rosa was employed as a property manager at Tradewinds Apartments and a as truck driver for Radiant Heating Fuel Services before he was arrested. Rosa declared his annual income at around $35,000, which exceeds the state’s usual threshold for public defender services.
Peterson, the state attorney, encouraged the judge to assign an attorney anyways. He said Rosa requires immediate legal counsel.
The magistrate ultimately agreed. Adams told Rosa that his unclassified felony charge is “one of the maximum ranges of crimes that can be committed in Alaska. This is right below murder, to be honest with you.”
Adams signed off on the request for a public defender and set Rosa’s bail at $100,000 with a mandatory third-party custodian.
All nine defendants are scheduled to appear in court again on October 31 at 10 a.m. for pre-indictment hearings.
In the meantime, Unalaska police are still serving search warrants in connection with the investigation. By the end of the week, the department had served 20 warrants and expected to execute more in the coming days.
Public safety director Jamie Sunderland says he expects additional charges — and possibly arrests — to result from those searches.
Sundlerland encourages anyone with information about drug sales in Unalaska to contact police.