Santa Rosa, CA – December 27, 2018 – District Attorney Jill Ravitch has announced that defendant Sergio Espinoza-Villalobos, 23 years old of Santa Rosa, was found guilty today by a Sonoma County jury of driving or taking a motor vehicle without consent, his fourth conviction for such conduct in the last 14 months.
The current case stemmed from a September 20, 2018, incident, near Olive Park in Santa Rosa, where a Good Samaritan called police after noticing Espinoza-Villalobos’s strange behavior while driving the victim’s car. Santa Rosa police officers detained Defendant in Olive Park minutes later. The victim’s car was stolen about 12 hours before from the victim’s church parking lot. At the time of the arrest, Defendant was on probation in both Sonoma and Mendocino counties following convictions for possessing, driving, or taking motor vehicles without consent in October 2017, December 2017, and May 2018. Two of those prior convictions were felonies.
District Attorney Ravitch stated, “This case exemplifies the problem we face with changes in the law regarding penalties for property crimes. We are seeing repeat offenders because the tools to hold them accountable have been limited.”
Espinoza-Villalobos faces up to five (5) years, eight (8) months in local prison custody when he is sentenced on January 24, 2019, by the Honorable Bradford DeMeo in Sonoma County Superior Court.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Bertz, assisted by District Attorney Investigator Ken Pistorio. Officers from the Santa Rosa Police Department headed the investigation.