GLENDALE— Nancy Salas — the Glendale woman who faked her disappearance in May — pleaded not guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge for allegedly lying to police about being kidnapped, officials said.
Attorney Jeffrey Tenenbaum appeared before Merced County Superior Court Judge Marc Garcia on behalf of Salas to answer to the charge of providing false information to a police officer. Misdemeanor cases don't require defendants to be present, her attorney said.
"Nancy is at her home in Glendale," Tenenbaum said. "She is doing well. She just wants to put this behind her."
The judge ordered the Merced County Probation Department to determine restitution costs associated with the investigation, Salas' attorney said.
The hearing was supposed to take place Monday, but Tenenbaum failed to appear due to what he said was a scheduling conflict. The missed hearing prompted the judge to issue a $10,000-bench warrant for Salas that was rescinded later that day after Tenenbaum explained the conflict.
On Thursday, Garcia ordered Salas be present in court during the next hearing on Aug. 13 in attempt to resolve the case, her attorney said.
Part of that will depend on whether Salas accepts a possible plea deal from county prosecutors, Tenenbaum said.
"I am hoping that we come to a resolution," Prosecutor Matt Martinez said. "That's really our goal."
Martinez wants to resolve the case to before it goes to trial.
"When people do something like this, it's a strain on resources," he said.
People who make false police reports put a drain on local cities and counties, Martinez said, adding that those offenders must be deterred.
Most misdemeanor cases, Tenenbaum said, are resolved through settlement.
"I suspect in this case, the attorneys will talk about what is a fair disposition," he said.
Attorney on both sides will also review the probation report to negotiate the case and determine the costs involved in the incident, Tenenbaum said.
Salas' parents called police in May after she didn't return from a jog in Chevy Chase Canyon. Glendale police determined her disappearance was suspicious after finding her cell phone and car keys at home.
Police launched a massive search for the 22-year-old former UCLA student.
But the search took a twist when police discovered that Salas had apparently convinced her parents she was graduating from UCLA, where she had not been enrolled since fall 2008.
Two days later, Salas entered a downtown Merced carpet store, called 911 and reportedly told Merced police that she had been kidnapped.
When Glendale police officers picked her up and brought her back home, Salas retracted her story and told them she feared the repercussions of lying to her family about dropping out of UCLA.
"She feels bad for whatever happened," Tenenbaum said, adding that Salas planned to finish college. "She is very embarrassed by all the attention."