By ROBERT S. MERRILL
Two Franklin County residents associated with a recent crime spree across southern Idaho and northern Utah plead guilty to grand theft in District Court in Franklin County on Thursday.
Judge Mitchell W. Brown ordered a pre-sentence investigation for Hector Diaz, 20, Franklin, and Jose Padilla, 18, Preston. Both are incarcerated in the Caribou County jail.
Judge Brown set sentencing on April 26. The maximum sentence on the grant theft charges is up to 14 years in the state penitentiary and a $5,000 fine, according to Franklin County prosecutor Todd Garbett.
Garbett said the court put “a hold” on both Diaz and Padilla, meaning they can’t be released into Utah’s custody until after sentencing is complete locally.
The prosecutor said court actions for the duo were put on hold several weeks ago pending a grand jury hearing in federal court in Pocatello.
“We were told by officials at the federal court level they decided not to pursue the grand jury route. They apparently felt pending cases in Utah were too far advanced and told both us and Cache County to pursue prosecution at the state level,” said Garbett.
Diaz waived a preliminary hearing on Dec. 2, and was bound over to district court on three felony grand theft charges, according to Garbett. Padilla was also bound over.
Garbett said a 17-year-old juvenile, allegedly involved in the crimes, is being detained in a juvenile facility awaiting proceedings in juvenile court. His name has not been released.
A multi-agency investigation from southeastern Idaho, including Franklin County and Cache County, resulted in the arrest of the three Franklin County males and two from Lewiston.
Leonel Martinez, 19, and Antonio Orozco Cruz, 29, both from Lewiston, have also been detained and court proceedings for them will begin again in 1st District Court in Logan.
Officials said the multi-agency task force involved in the investigation combined efforts to help solve up to 191 cases of burglary, theft, robbery and at least two drive-by shootings in Logan. The investigation took several weeks.
Garbett said in Franklin County up to 15 burglary and 15 theft cases are involved. In Preston City up to 10 burglary and 10 theft cases have been solved.
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