Suspects accused of harboring the man who killed Newman police officer face new charges


    FILE -Paulo Virgen Mendoza (Courtesy of Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department via AP, File)

    A federal grand jury returned a nine-count superseding indictment Thursday for seven people arrested for their part in helping a fugitive escape justice, according to the Department of Justice.

    The seven people, including three from Kern County, were originally charged with conspiracy to harbor and conceal Paulo Virgen Mendoza, first named as Gustavo Perez Arriaga, who allegedly shot and killed Newman Police Officer Ronil Singh on Dec. 26, 2018.

    The six new charges against Erik Razo-Quiroz, 29, of Merced; Adrian Virgen-Mendoza, 25, of Fairfield; Conrado Virgen Mendoza, 34, of Chowchilla; Erasmo Villegas-Suarez, 36, of Buttonwillow; Ana Leydi Cervantes-Sanchez, 31, of Newman; Bernabe Madrigal-Castaneda, 59, of Lamont; and Maria Luisa Moreno, 57, of Lamont, relate to fraudulent identification documents, the news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

    Razo also faces charges of being a felon and being an alien in possession of a firearm. Those charges carry a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    The defendants allegedly transported, hosted, and provisioned Mendoza with clothes, money, and a new cellphone; concealed the truck that Mendoza was driving when he allegedly killed Corporal Singh; and made plans and wired money to smuggle Mendoza out of California and back to Mexico. Additionally, Razo, a convicted felon, disposed of the gun that Mendoza allegedly used, the news release said.

    None of the defendants are in the United States legally.

    In the superseding indictment, Mendoza’s brothers, Conrado Virgen Mendoza and Adrian Virgen-Mendoza, are also charged with using a false Social Security Number and possessing a false lawful permanent resident card for securing employment. Another relative, Erasmo Villegas-Suarez, is also charged with using a false Social Security Number for securing employment, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

    The charges of harboring conspiracy and misuse of a social security number carry a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Possession of false immigration documents carries a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    The defendants are scheduled to appear in federal court on Monday.

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