Maricopa County Judge Sets Fugitive and Convicted Rapist Free on Meager Bond

When police finally arrested Antonio Julio Sanchez after 10 years on the lam, he was cleaning his car in a posh Miami neighborhood by the beach, living under a false name.

Sanchez, 40, pleaded guilty in 2002 to drugging at least one Arizona woman with Ketamine and filming him and his cousin raping her. But he fled the state before his sentencing.

See also: -U.S. Marshals and Tempe PD Nab Second Ketamine Raper in Atlanta -U.S. Marshals and Tempe PD Catch Fugitive Ketamine Raper in Miami Tempe police worked with the U.S. Marshals to track him down and bring him before a local judge to finally receive and serve his sentence. When he appeared in court last month, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Gottsfield must have figured that evading authorities for 10 years and fleeing to at least two different states -- as well as getting in a relationship with a "wealthy Italian citizen" -- didn't constitute valid reasons to designate Sanchez as a flight risk.

The judge granted a meager (under the circumstances) $150,000 bond, which Sanchez quickly paid, although he lists no assets or employment history in court documents. He is now free, much to the surprise of authorities and county officials.

"We believe it was too low," says Jerry Cobb, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, who says the ruling was uncommon given the circumstance.

Frustrated Tempe police Sergeant Mike Pooley says, "We still don't understand what happened, but obviously we're very disappointed."

Years after police lost leads, Pooley says, detectives in Tempe uncovered Sanchez's file while digging through cold cases.

On March 18, 2001 Sanchez and his cousin Mazen Diamond drugged a woman at a Tempe bar with Ketamine and took her to their apartment. The two took turns raping her and masturbating, switching positions to film. They did the same thing five days later to another woman, court documents show.

Sanchez pleaded guilty to kidnapping and sexual assault; Diamond pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault. When it came time to appear before the court to receive sentencing, the two fled.

A team of Tempe officers and U.S. Marshals tracked Sanchez to Salt Lake City, where he'd temporarily lived under the name Antonio Anderson Erin Pina, and later to Texas, where he's believed to have family.

He finally turned up in Miami, where officers strapped handcuffs on him in the front yard of the house where he was living.

Authorities would later catch Diamond living with his girlfriend and her two young children in Atlanta, where he, too, had assumed a new identity. Diamond, however, was granted no bond. He is scheduled to be sentenced September 19.

When news broke of their capture, one of the victims called Pooley and thanked him for his department's efforts.

Court records show that Sanchez hired local attorney Woody Thompson. Thompson did not return a call for comment.

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Weston Phippen
Contact: Weston Phippen