Jury Finds Tolutau Guilty of Walmart Robbery, Brandishing a Firearm During a Violent Crime
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 08, 2013|
SALT LAKE CITY—A jury convicted Tevita Tolutau, age 23, of Salt Lake City, of robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence Thursday afternoon following a four-day trial in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. Tolutau was charged in connection with a September 25, 2008 robbery of a Riverton Walmart store.
According to documents filed in court, just after midnight on September 25, 2008, two employees were gathering money from cash registers at the store to take to the office for nightly accounting. The two employees were confronted just outside the office by two men wearing hoodies. One of the men demanded the women give them their cell phones and a radio communication device. The store employees complied with the demand.
The two employees entered the outer office with the two assailants following directly behind. The assailants then began ordering the employees to open the door to the inner cash office. Not having a key to the inner office, one of the employees knocked on the door. Inside the office, another Walmart employee could see the robbery in progress through a surveillance camera and refused to open the door. The assailants eventually fled the store.
Eric Kamahele and Mataika Tuai, two members of the Tongan Crip Gang, were previously convicted of this offense and other violent crimes in furtherance of a RICO conspiracy during a fall 2011 trial in federal court. Kamahele is serving 384 months in federal prison, and Tuai is serving an 84-month sentence.
Evidence at this week’s trial proved that Tolutau was the getaway driver for Kamahele and Tuai. He also provided the firearm used in the robbery and disposed of the firearm after the robbery.
The potential maximum penalty for the robbery conviction is 20 years. Brandishing a firearm during the commission of a violent crime carries a statutory maximum penalty of life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years. The penalty for the firearm conviction must be imposed consecutively to whatever sentence is imposed for the robbery. Sentencing in the case is set for May 16, 2013, at 3:30 p.m. in U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups’ courtroom.
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City and was investigated by special agents of the FBI, members of the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, and the Unified Police Department.