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Nancy Salas gets probation, community service

MERCED - Nancy Salas, the former UCLA student who sparked a massive police search in May after faking her own disappearance, was sentenced Friday to three years of probation and 100 hours of community service.

Salas, 22, appeared before Merced County Superior Court Judge Glenn Ritchey and changed her not-guilty plea to no contest to a misdemeanor charge of providing a false report to police, said her attorney, Jeffrey Tenenbaum. Ritchey sentenced her to unsupervised probation and community service, which she will be allowed to complete in Glendale.

“She understands what she did was wrong,” Tenenbaum said.

Salas was also ordered to pay $878 to the Glendale Police Department for the rape and medical exam performed after she claimed she was sexually assaulted, Tenenbaum said.

In response to the court order, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said his department would welcome any restitution for a case that sapped the resources of dozens of officers over a two-day period.

“We’re glad to see that there’s finally a resolution in this particular matter,” he said.

The Merced Police Department did not seek restitution for its involvement in the investigation.

“She was very relieved that this part of her life is over,” Tenenbaum said, adding that Salas was grateful to police for their “professionalism and kindness.”

Police deemed Salas’ May 12 disappearance suspicious after discovering her cell phone and car keys at home. Soon after, police launched a massive search for the former UCLA student.

The search took a turn when police discovered that Salas had told her parents she was graduating from UCLA, where she had not been enrolled since fall 2008.

Nearly two days after Nancy Salas was reported missing, she entered a downtown Merced carpet store, called 911 and reportedly told Merced police that she had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted.

She later recanted her story when Glendale police officers picked her up and brought her back home, saying she feared the repercussions of lying to her friends and family about dropping out of UCLA.

“She is still a little embarrassed by all the attention she got,” Tenenbaum said, adding that she did not consider herself an attention-getter.

Beyond the national headlines Salas’ story generated, Merced County Deputy Dist. Atty. Matt Martinez said the case was unusual in that false police reports are generally difficult to prove.

“We hope the people see we do take this seriously, and we do hold people accountable,” he said. “This is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

Salas now has a full-time job and is hoping to return to college and graduate, Tenenbaum said, although it was unclear whether she would re-enroll at UCLA.

“She is just hoping to put this behind her,” he said.

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