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Charges possible for Salas

Merced D.A. will review local woman’s false kidnapping report.

May 19, 2010|By Melanie Hicken

GLENDALE — Nancy Salas, the 22-year-old Glendale resident who last week lied about being abducted after sparking a massive search, could still face criminal charges in Merced, the Central Valley city where she was found, police officials there said Wednesday.

Nearly two days after Salas was reported missing last week, she entered a downtown Merced carpet store and called 911, reporting herself the victim of an abduction. Salas later recanted the story to Glendale police, admitting she had fled to Merced fearing repercussions from lying to her friends and family about dropping out of UCLA more than a year ago.

While Merced police officials last week said she wouldn’t face criminal charges for filing a false report, Merced Lt. Andrew Matthews said Wednesday that his department would forward a report to the Merced County district attorney’s office to determine whether any charges should be filed.

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He said the change of heart was not sparked by public pressure, but rather a reevaluation of her false claims.

“We decided to take a second look at all the information we had and listen to the 911 tape,” he said. “Based on that information, we determined a report should be sent to the district attorney and let them determine if charges should be filed.”

Matthews said filing a false police report is a misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to a year in county jail.

A spokeswoman for the Merced County district attorney’s office said she could not comment on potential charges until they have received the police department’s report.

Salas will not face charges in Glendale after the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office determined she did not break the law, said Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz.

“They have declined to file charges,” Lorenz said. “She did not file a report. The family did, and there is no violation on part of the family for doing so.”

Glendale city attorneys are evaluating the ability to recover costs of the massive search Salas sparked with her disappearance.

In the hours after Salas was reported missing, following a supposed morning run up Chevy Chase Canyon on May 12, Glendale police assigned more than a dozen investigators to the case. Search dogs and a helicopter were also used, bringing the city’s tab to thousands of dollars.

But Lorenz said that without criminal liability, it would be unlikely the city could pursue civil action.

“Now that we have no criminal liability, it’s very hard to seek any civil remedies or civil compensation,” he said.

Lorenz added that police officials do not want residents to be afraid of reporting legitimate cases.

“I think the strongest message here is we at the Police Department will weigh every case individually and respond accordingly,” he said. “We certainly don’t want any parent or family member to feel they can’t report something to us in fear of civil compensation.”


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