A local man who told some tall tales to law enforcement officers and led them on a slow speed chase will be spending a little over a year in prison after entering a plea agreement.
According to a Graham County Sheriff’s Office report, a deputy saw an ATV traveling on Highway 191 without taillights or a license plate around 4 a.m. April 12. The driver hit a curb near the entrance of the fairgrounds after the deputy began to follow him and the driver got off the vehicle to pick up items he’d dropped.
The driver identified himself as John Errante and repeatedly insisted the deputy call his supervisors, the sheriff and a Lt. Arbizo to find out why he was in the area, the report stated. The 31-year-old said he was an agent from Cochise County and had been following a load of methamphetamine into Safford.
The deputy told him there is no lieutenant by that name in the GCSO and said he needed to move the ATV to prevent an accident. Instead, Errante took off, the report said.
The deputy pursued the ATV at roughly 30 mph down Highway 191 and Discovery Park, but was told to stop chasing him by a sergeant when the ATV got onto a paved jogging trail, the report stated.
A short time later, the deputy found the ATV, which had run out of gas, near Discovery Park and Eighth Avenue.
Inside packs on the ATV were a driver’s license for a James Errante, a state prisoner ID card for Errante, a rifle and ammunition for the rifle and a 9 mm gun, the report said.
A sergeant with the sheriff’s office found Errante at 6:30 a.m. near Discovery Park and 20th Avenue.
According to the sergeant’s report, Errante told him he’d just been chased and attacked by a mountain lion while picking up trash. He also said he’d bear sprayed himself, although there was no evidence of that.
Deputies found a marijuana pipe, methamphetamine and what appeared to be a THC cookie in Errante’s possession.
According to Graham County Superior Court records, Errante pleaded guilty last week to three felony counts pertaining to a February 2021 assault case investigated by Thatcher Police and causing injury to the Graham County jail. He also pleaded guilty to unlawful flight and possession of a dangerous drug in the April incident.
Records show Errante will be sentenced Oct. 12 to 1.25 years in prison and upon his release he’ll be on supervised probation.