Two men are charged with harboring alleged cop killer. Judge says they’re staying in jail

A federal magistrate in Fresno ruled Wednesday against two men charged with hiding an alleged cop killer by denying them release from jail on bond before trial.

At a detention hearing, Magistrate Judge Sheila K. Oberto ruled that Adrian Virgen Mendoza and Erik Razo Quiroz pose a danger to the community and are flight risks.

Paulo Virgen Mendoza is charged with murder in the shooting dead of Newman police Cpl. Ronil Singh on Dec. 26, 2018 in a case that shocked the nation.

He was captured two days later at a home in Bakersfield and is now in jail in Stanislaus County.

While he was on the run, Adrian Mendoza, his brother, gave him a ride, got him a cell phone and paid a human trafficker to hide him, according to a criminal complaint.

Adrian Mendoza is in the country illegally, used a fake Social Security card number and had a fake permanent resident card, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar said in court Wednesday.

Federal authorities have charged seven people, all of them in the United States without documentation, according to the government, with harboring an alien who does not have documentation.

Harboring an alien without documentation carries a five-year prison term, but could be up to 20 years with enhancements.

The criminal complaint also said Quiroz aided the alleged cop killer by changing out a license plate with a bullet hole in it, hiding Paulo Virgen Mendoza’s truck and discarding a gun. Quiroz has a felony record and is charged federally with being an alien in possession of a firearm, which carries a 10-year prison term.

The detention hearing for suspect Conrado Virgen Mendoza, another brother, was rescheduled for Thursday. He drove Paulo Virgen Mendoza to several locations, the criminal complaint said.

Another suspect, Ana Leydi Cervantes Sanchez, will have her detention hearing Friday in Fresno. She gave Paulo Virgen Mendoza different clothing, according to the criminal complaint.

Meanwhile, Bakersfield residents Bernabe Castaneda, his wife Maria Moreno and Erasmo Villegas Suarez are charged with harboring an alien who does not have documentation and helping Mendonza get ready to flee to Mexico. They are scheduled for a hearing Friday to learn if the judge will release them on bond as recommended in a pre-trial report.

Lewis Griswold: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold
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