SALT LAKE CITY -- What prosecutors call a "long, drawn-out legal ordeal" ended Wednesday when a former Air Force major pleaded guilty to arranging to have sex with a 14-year-old in Layton.
Reinaldo L. Canton, 47, was arrested in 2007, but he avoided court for the next four years. On Wednesday morning, he showed up in 3rd District Court and admitted guilt to enticing a minor over the Internet.
"The defendant has a doctorate degree, and he seemed to think everyone was stupid enough to believe he was either physically or mentally too ill to face the consequences of his crime," Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said in a news release.
In 2007, Canton started chatting with an undercover agent for the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children task force who was posing as a 14-year-old girl.
Canton arranged to meet her at a Layton mall and have sex, prosecutors say.
He was arrested April 11, 2007. He argued he was only going to have dinner with the girl and tell her "about the dangers of the Internet," according to the Utah Attorney General's Office.
Federal prosecutors ended up dropping charges against Canton when he claimed his poor health would not allow him to be prosecuted.
Utah attorneys refiled charges against Canton, but he "still claimed his heart was so weak that he would probably die if he tried to travel to court hearings in Utah," according to the Utah Attorney General's Office.
The FBI then found photos of Canton snowmobiling with his family in Colorado last December. They also found a waiver he signed stating that he was in good health.
He continued to avoid court with a letter from a psychiatrist that indicated the stress of appearing in court would "severely impact his health," the Utah Attorney General's Office said.
Canton was arrested in Florida in January. He pleaded guilty moments before his trial was going to start Wednesday.
"Justice was delayed in this case, but justice will come to anyone who tries to get away with having sex with children," Assistant Attorney General Paul Amann, prosecutor for the task force, said in a news release.
But the courts are not done with Canton. He entered a Sery plea to his class A misdemeanor enticement charge. Though a Sery plea admits guilt, the plea also means he plans to challenge the state law on the statute of limitations.
Canton is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 22 before 3rd District Judge Robin Reese. He could spend up to a year in jail and pay a fine of $2,500.