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Steve Griffin, KSL

Judge orders Utah activist Tony Yapias to serve 15 days in jail

By Annie Knox, KSL | Posted - Dec. 17, 2018 at 10:48 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — A prominent Latino activist was sentenced to jail and probation Monday after he admitted to keeping a woman in a car for too long and deleting text messages containing evidence from her phone after she ended their relationship.

Third District Judge Randall Skanchy ordered Tony Yapias, 52, to serve 15 days in jail and two years of probation, calling the behavior "disturbing."

Yapias was originally charged in September 2016 with rape, a first-degree felony, and an evidence tampering charge. As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty in August to evidence tampering, a class A misdemeanor, and unlawful detention, a class B misdemeanor.

The woman whose allegation led to the rape charge two years ago told the judge Monday that sex with Yapias in March 2016 was not consensual. Prosecutor Troy Rawlings said she agreed to the plea negotiations to avoid what could have been days of testifying at trial.

But Deborah Kreeck Mendez, his defense attorney, countered that the two had a consensual but tenuous relationship.

The judge sentenced Yapias to a year and a half in jail on both sentences but suspended most of the jail time. He directed Yapias to report to court after Christmas to serve the 15 days and also ordered him to complete 100 hours of community service.

Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings prosecuted the case because Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has close ties to Yapias.

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