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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Fernando Maldonado Convicted of Sex Crimes, Flees to Mexico

pastor fernando maldonado

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Fernando Maldonado, a pastor at Morello Baptist Church in Martinez, California and Grace Bible Church in Pleasant Hill, California, was convicted Wednesday of child sexual abuse. Maldonado jumped bail and apparently fled to Mexico with his wife and children.

Sarah Ravani, a reporter for LMT Online, writes:

A Contra Costa County jury convicted a Martinez pastor of 23 counts of child sexual abuse days after he failed to show up at his trial and apparently fled to Mexico with his wife and children — jumping $1.29 million in bail secured by relatives, prosecutors said Thursday.

Fernando Maldonado, 37, faces up to 34 years in state prison for crimes ranging from committing lewd acts upon a child to unlawful sexual intercourse and sodomy of a person under the age of 18.

A jury convicted him on all charges Wednesday after deliberating for 2½ hours. But the defendant was not present when the panel announced its decision.

A bench warrant was issued for him when he failed to show up for his trial on Monday. Maldonado was last spotted driving south on Interstate 5 near San Diego on Sunday, said Jordan Sanders, a Contra Costa County deputy district attorney.

“Based on this information, I am comfortable assuming he is driving to Mexico with his wife and children,” Sanders said.Shortly after his arrest in April 2016, Maldonado was released on $1.29 million bail secured by six relatives who put up to their properties as collateral.

Prosecutors said Maldonado had a sexual relationship between 2012 and 2016 with a young girl, beginning when she was 13 years old and while he was a minister at Morello Baptist Church in Martinez. The victim, whose name was not released, was a church parishioner, said Sanders.

Their relationship continued until the victim ended it in December 2014 when she was about 16 years old, Sanders said.

“At the time, he was married and had a newborn baby,” Sanders said, adding that Maldonado was also a minister at Grace Bible Church in Pleasant Hill.

The victim testified against Maldonado on Thursday and Friday, before he decided to flee, Sanders said.

Sanders said that during the trial he played the jury a recorded phone call, in which the victim confronted Maldonado about the sex abuse.

Additionally, a criminalist testified that Maldonado’s semen was found on a church couch, corroborating the victim’s testimony that they had sex inside the church, Sanders said.


Maldonado’s bio on Grace Bible Church’s website states:

fernando maldonado

An April 4, 2018 SF Gate news report states:

An East Bay pastor who was convicted of molesting a teenage girl has been caught in Mexico, where he fled during his trial, the Contra Costa County district attorney’s office said Wednesday.

Prosecutors said Fernando Maldonado was deported from Mexico on Tuesday and flown to Los Angeles, which will send him to Contra Costa County for sentencing April 13. The Mexican government located Maldonado after county officers contacted U.S. marshals, said district attorney’s spokesman Scott Alonso.

Maldonado was charged in 2015 with sexual abuse of a girl in his parish at Morello Baptist Church in Martinez, starting when she was 13 and continuing until she was 16. Prosecutors said she broke off contact with him in December 2014.

Maldonado, who was also a minister at Grace Bible Church in Pleasant Hill, was released on $1.29 million bail, put up by six relatives who used their property as collateral. The trial began in December 2017, and after two days of testimony by the girl, Maldonado disappeared. The lead prosecutor said Maldonado, 37, had been seen driving south on Interstate 5 near San Diego, apparently headed to Mexico with his wife and children.


An April 13, 2018 SF Gate report states that Maldonado was sentenced to thirty-four years in prison for his crimes:

A Martinez pastor who fled to Mexico during his 2017 sexual molestation trial, only to be captured and extradited back to the U.S., was sentenced Friday to 34 years in prison.

A judge gave Fernando Maldonado, 37, the maximum sentence in a Richmond courtroom two weeks after he was captured in the resort town of Cancun.

Maldonado, in a yellow jail shirt, said nothing during his sentencing, according to Contra Costa district attorney spokesman Scott Alonso. He had been returned to the custody of the county Tuesday.

Maldonado was charged in 2015 with sexual abuse of a girl in his parish at Morello Baptist Church in Martinez, starting when she was 13. At the time of his trial, he was free on $1.29 million bail.


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