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425-pound gang member charged with grabbing boy in park

October 10, 2012 | 10:04 am

A 425-pound Orange County gang member is facing charges that he attacked and briefly abducted a 10-year-old boy who was on his way to soccer practice.

Victor Joseph Espinoza, 55, of Santa Ana has been charged with felony false imprisonment for allegedly grabbing the boy on a park trail and smelling the victim’s arm. He is due to be arraigned Wednesday.

With sentencing enhancements for committing a crime for the benefit of a criminal street gang and a prior strike conviction for street terrorism in 2007, Espinoza could be sentenced to 15 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors and police said Espinoza tried to grab the boy Sunday as he walked with a 19-year-old female cousin on a bike trail by Delhi Park in Santa Ana.

Espinoza is accused of approaching the boy and asking if he wanted to see Espinoza’s gang tattoo. Espinoza is accused of claiming his gang, then grabbing and smelling the victim’s arm.

The victim’s cousin screamed for Espinoza to let the boy go, prosecutors saud.

The boy broke free, ran to the soccer field with his cousin and told his soccer coach what had happened.

Prosecutors say the  coach ran down the bike trail looking for the assailant and tackled him.

Espinoza escaped but was eventually found by a police helicopter. Authorities are seeking to hold Espinoza on $250,000 bail.


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-- Richard Winton

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