A Payson man will spend three years in prison for attempting to extort $100 from a woman he claimed hit him on his bicycle.
Anthony Christopher Aguilar, 50, later admitted he rammed his bike into the woman’s car to make it look like she hit him because he was penniless.
Although a minor offense, Aguilar was on probation at the time and had six other felony convictions under his belt.
Gila County Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill said Aguilar had clearly not responded to probation and time behind bars was appropriate.
On Jan. 29, just outside the Payson courtroom, at the intersection of Highway 87 and Main Street, Aguilar was riding his bike. A woman and her 16-year-old daughter stopped at the light, preparing to make a right turn. As the woman accelerated, Aguilar turned into her vehicle, hitting her right bumper.
Limping, Aguilar approached the woman and said if she gave him $100 he would go away, according to a police report.
Suspicious, the woman called police.
Aguilar told officers he had never asked the woman for money and no longer felt injured.
Officers noted this wasn’t the first time Aguilar had intentionally been hit or lied about what happened.
“When questioned, Mr. Aguilar admitted he had done so in the past and admitted he intentionally steered his bicycle into (victim’s name redacted) vehicle because he was destitute and needed money,” according to a report.
However, after his arrest, Aguilar later rebuffed that story, saying he only said it because he thought it was what the officer wanted to hear.
In court Monday, Aguilar owned up to the crime and apologized to the woman, asking her for forgiveness.
In a letter to the court, Aguilar said he had grown up in a dysfunctional family and had lacked guidance. He left home at 15 and at 17 became a horse jockey.
After an injury, he became a “full-blown” heroin addict and his career ended.
For the next 21 years, he abused heroin daily.
In 2001, he overcame the addiction after going to rehab. Then for the last four or five years, Aguilar abused prescription opiates.
In June 2010, he was convicted of obtaining a narcotic fraudulently.
The probation department recommended Cahill sentence Aguilar to 3.5 years based on his criminal and drug record. Aguilar wrote the court that he has been clean for 10 months and no longer desired drugs or the lifestyle.
“I am very grateful to have my life back in order and will continue to do whatever it takes to keep my life on track with me striving to be better than the day before,” he wrote the court.
Aguilar’s lawyer, Barry Standifird, said Aguilar should have never been charged with fraudulent schemes. Instead, he should have been charged with attempted theft by extortion, which carries a shorter mandated sentence.
“I wonder if the taxpayers want to pay a great deal of money to house this person for many years when this was technically a $100 matter that probably should have been charged a little differently,” he said.
Standifird said Aguilar was a good, considerate person who had admittedly had a very serious struggle with addition.
Standifird asked for two years incarceration. Cahill sentenced Aguilar to three years in prison.