PROVO — A former Brigham Young University football player will have a chance to get felonies wiped from his record if he can stay out of trouble for the next few years.

Matangi Tonga, 19, was sentenced Wednesday in 4th District Court to 36 months of probation and 90 days on the jail's ankle-monitoring system for four third-degree felonies of burglary.

The deal is that if Tonga keeps out of trouble and completes his probation requirements, when he comes before the court again in a year, the state agreed to lower the charges.

"From our standpoint this is an incentive to clean up his act and to continue in his schooling, and perhaps play football in the future, to make something positive (of his life)," said deputy Utah County Attorney Chad Grunander.

With compliance, the four felonies could become four class A misdemeanors on Tonga's permanent record.

Sometime in August and October of last year, and around January and February of this year, Tonga broke into several apartments around BYU campus and pawed through personal property. He walked off with an iPod, Xbox and a set of speakers, said Grunander.

"Students actually had suspicions that Tonga was involved, so on their own, they went to his dorm and found their property and reported the problem," Grunander said.

Tonga was cooperative with police and admitted what he had done, and was able to return most of the property, Grunander said. However, Judge Lynn Davis left open restitution.

Originally charged with seven felonies, Tonga was willing to work with prosecutors and took a deal in August in which he agreed to plead guilty to four felonies if the state dropped three charges — two burglaries and one theft, said defense attorney Danny Frazier.

Tonga, a defensive lineman, played in BYU's 2006 football season as a freshman but was suspended indefinitely from the team in February 2007 for "violating team rules."

Tonga is currently in school at Utah Valley State College.


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