Prank Brings Not So Simple Consequences

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Just before graduation last year, 18 Payson High School seniors performed what they thought were simple pranks at the Payson High School.

They super glued pennies on the sidewalk, removed the valve stems from the school bus tires, and painted a section of the running track with a water-base paint.

What started out as a simple prank ended up not being so simple after all. The pennies could not be removed and the surface had to be sandblasted at a cost of $626.35, the maintenance staff was called in on Sunday to replace the tire stems and inflate the tires at an overtime cost of $1,589.26, the paint on the track would not wash off and the section had to be re-surfaced at a cost of $3,115. Collectively the total damage was $6,824.33, said Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores in a press release.

As a result of these simple pranks, each one of these 18 seniors faced serious felony crimes and entered the Gila County Attorney’s Office Diversion Program. The diversion program allows some individuals who are facing non-violent felony charges to defer those charges by participating in the diversion program for up to two years.

To get on the program, individuals must give the county attorney’s office a taped confession and agree to abide by program terms and conditions. These terms and conditions include making full restitution, obeying all laws, reporting once per month, being subject to random searches and drug testing, and paying a program fee which normally runs about $1,000. Successful participants receive the guarantee that they will not be charged with a crime. Unsuccessful participants are kicked out of the program and are prosecuted for their crimes with the use of their taped confessions Flores said in the release.

Nearly one year after the so-called pranks, these 18 former Payson High School seniors have collectively paid $3,225.34 in restitution to the Payson Unified School District and another $6,736 in program fees.

A few of them have already successfully completed the program after paying their portion of the restitution. The rest are still working to successfully complete the program. Thankfully, it is expected all will successfully complete their obligations and no charges will be filed, she said.

So while other 2008 Payson High graduates are busy catching up with friends and trying to decide what to do on their first college summer break, those still in the diversion program for the so-called prank are busy this summer working to pay their debts to society and staying in touch with their diversion officer. As graduation fast approaches, students need to consider the hard lesson learned by these students, Flores said.

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