A Salt Lake City man who drove the getaway car for two gang members who robbed a Riverton Wal-Mart in 2008 was convicted in a federal trial this week.
After a four-day jury trial, Tevita Tolutau, 23, was found guilty of robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. His sentencing has been set for May 16.
His is the latest conviction to come from a 2010 federal indictment of members of the Tongan Crip Gang. Federal prosecutors filed a 29-count indictment against 17 of the TCG’s members or associates, alleging the gang engaged in acts of violence to enhance its prestige and to expand the gang’s operations. Nine of the 17 defendants were charged with racketeering under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO.
According to court documents, Tolutau, or “Kingi,” assisted in driving the getaway car for Eric Kamahele and Mataika Tuai, two TCG members who brandished a handgun at two Wal-Mart employees who had gathered cash from the store’s registers just after midnight on Sept. 25, 2008. Tolutau also provided the firearm used in the robbery and disposed of it after it was done. The men fled the store after an employee refused to let them into a the store’s cash office.
In 2011, Tuai and Kamahele were convicted of the robbery and other violent crimes associated with a RICO charge against each of them. Kamahele is serving a 32-year sentence in federal prison and Tuai is serving a seven-year sentence.
Two other gang members associated with the robbery, Vainga Kinikini and Latutaofieikii Fakaosiula, pleaded guilty to the offense and received lighter sentences in exchange for testifying against their associates in court.