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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Followed by complaints about the justice system, Eagle Mountain Mayor Kelvin Bailey pleaded no contest to providing false information to police in his fabricated story last year of having been abducted.
Provo Justice Court Judge Scott Cullimore on Thursday placed Bailey, 48, on probation, fined him $200 for court costs and ordered him to pay $925 restitution to law enforcement agencies that investigated his disappearance.
On March 27, 2003, Bailey called his wife and told her he had been carjacked and forced to drive to Barstow, Calif.
His wife called police, and, Bailey, who had been overdue on returning from a pheasant-hunting trip, repeated the story to them when he got back.
He later admitted fabricating the story as a way of accounting to his wife for his disappearance, which he attributed to the stress of running the city and his consulting business.
Bailey, 48, was charged with a class B misdemeanor for giving false reports to police who questioned him on his return to Utah County.
In an agreement reached with prosecutors, Bailey pleaded no contest to the Class B misdemeanor charge, which will be held in abeyance. If he meets the terms of probation, the charge will be dismissed, said Deputy Utah County Attorney Chad Grunander.
Bailey issued a statement in which he continued to maintain that he never should have been charged because his story had been intended only for his wife.
"I feel that it is in my best interest and in my family's financial interest to enter a plea of no contest and have the case completely dismissed," he said. "It is disappointing that our justice system makes it less expensive to enter a plea than to stand up for one's innocence and principles."
He said the incident was "a misfortunate emotional breakdown on my part" and he thanked his family and friends for their support.
"Again I apologize as I did a year ago for any embarrassment that this may have caused to my community," he said. "I am glad to have this case dismissed and have this entirely behind me as I look forward to continuing to serve my community."
Grunander said the restitution was important because of the work of law enforcement officers who wasted time looking for Bailey.
"When the incident occurred, there were several different law enforcement agencies involved, so we really wanted to recoup those expenses," Grunander said. "It took a long time to get this resolved, and I believe it (the plea bargain) is a very generous offer."
After Bailey admitted the abduction was false, three members of the City Council asked for his resignation, but Bailey declined and said he would serve the remainder of his term, which ends in 2006.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)