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Pantoja enters Alford plea on kidnapping, luring charges

Rafael Pantoja, a Sunnyside resident, entered an Alford plea yesterday morning (Monday) in Yakima County Superior Court.

Pantoja entered his plea on charges of kidnapping in the second degree and luring with sexual motivation.

The charges stem from an incident last June when Pantoja allegedly lured a 10-year-old victim into his vehicle at a car wash at Sixth Street and Lincoln Avenue in Sunnyside.

In an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit the act and asserts innocence, but admits that sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty.

A spokesperson from the Yakima County Prosecutor's Office said the 34-year-old Pantoja will likely be sentenced in a month, after the Department of Corrections completes a pre-sentencing investigation.

The kidnapping charge is a class A felony and carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. The luring with sexual motivation is a class C felony and carries a maximum sentence of five years.

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