San Tan Valley man accused of fake kidnapping report

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FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) -- Pinal County authorities say a San Tan Valley man has been arrested for falsely reporting that he had been kidnapped.

County sheriff's officials say 22-year-old Justin Sarten was taken into custody Friday.

His mother told authorities that Sarten sent text messages to his girlfriend saying he had been kidnapped while in Tempe on Thursday night.

Sarten then reported to law enforcement he had been kidnapped and was in a vehicle heading south on the 202 freeway.

Authorities say Sarten sent additional text messages to deputies reporting the vehicle stopped on Hunt Highway in San Tan Valley.

Deputies located Sarten and three men inside a store and the men denied kidnapping Sarten, saying he was with them on his own free will.

Sarten later admitted to voluntarily getting in the vehicle.

"Last night, four law enforcement agencies and our resources were spent in an attempt to quickly and safely rescue this 20-year-old, who we believed may have been kidnapped," Sheriff Paul Babeu said in a news release. "Upon learning of his reckless behavior, which frightened his family and diverted our resources from other emergency calls, suspect Sarten learned that there are serious consequences for crying wolf with law enforcement."