Yonemura Spins Two Tales Of His Past

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Depending on who he's talking to, Mikiyo Yonemura has different stories about his criminal record.

He told one of his business associates that his police record doesn't exist within hours of calling Payson's chief of police and demanding to know why local authorities were leaking information about his past to the Roundup.

Thursday morning, KMOG radio ran a taped interview with Val Greenhalgh, the president and owner of American Homes, who has been working with Yonemura on plans to build affordable housing for employees he said he wants to relocate from the Valley.

During the interview, Greenhalgh said he had called Yonemura to tell him about "accusations" made by the Roundup in its May 30 article detailing Yonemura's criminal history. Greenhalgh said Yonemura told him that he had no prior knowledge of the information even though the Roundup had called him Monday for comment on the outstanding warrant for his arrest for use and possession of methamphetamine in California.

According to Greenhalgh, Yonemura denied that the drug arrest had ever happened, that there was no warrant for his arrest, and that the Roundup was printing "lies" about him.

The content of that conversation, said Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner, is in direct contradiction to a telephone conversation he had with Yonemura Tuesday.

"He called because he was upset about (the story)," Gartner said Thursday. "The gist of his conversation was that (the Payson Police Department was) investigating him and leaking information about his past to the Payson Roundup.

"I had to square him away by saying, 'Time out, the Roundup is conducting its own independent investigation; in fact they have given us more information than we have given them. They're the ones who found out about the warrant and came to us,'" Gartner said.

Gartner said Yonemura admitted that he'd been arrested for possession, and he acknowledged the existence of the warrant, but he said the drugs found by California police were in the pocket of a shirt he was wearing, but that didn't belong to him.

"We hear that all the time when making drug arrests: 'Someone put those drugs in my pocket!'" Gartner said.

Yonemura also told Gartner that the Roundup printed erroneous information about his criminal record.

"He said that he never served any 20 days in jail (for a California arrest and conviction for making terrorist threats); that the most he'd ever served was three days."

"(The Roundup) did the right thing," Gartner said. "You ran the story because you wanted to protect the community. That was the right thing to do.

"But I have to say, this is one of the strangest things I've seen in this town. I think this guy thought it was going to be easy pickings up here."

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