Prosecutors on Thursday dropped charges against two men accused of participating in a kidnap-for-ransom plot in Patterson in June.
The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office dropped the charges against Adan Esquivel and Jonathan Figueroa, saying there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
Authorities have said a group of people took the victim from his rural home in Stanislaus County on June 15 and drove the man to a Patterson home, where the kidnappers assaulted him for nine hours because they believed he had stolen from them.
Deputy District Attorney Tom Brennan said the investigation had not been completed. Once it is complete, he said, the District Attorney’s Office will file new charges.
For the same reasons, prosecutors late last month dropped charges against Arturo Martinez. He, Esquivel and Figueroa had all been held at the Stanislaus County jail since mid-June in lieu of $1 million bail.
Martinez, 19, of Modesto, was released from jail after his court appearance Oct. 30. At the conclusion of Thursday’s hearing, Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Scott Steffen ordered Esquivel, 22, of Patterson and Figueroa, 22, of Modesto to be released from custody.
The fourth man who was charged, Victor Sandoval, remained a fugitive Thursday afternoon. Brennan said authorities will continue looking for Sandoval.
Sandoval, 21, of Patterson is listed as one of the county’s most-wanted fugitives on the Crime Stoppers website. Sheriff’s officials say he stands 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighs 190 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes.
All four defendants were charged with kidnapping for ransom, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.
Investigators said the suspects called the victim’s family, demanding $800 before they would let him go.
Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies tracked the victim to a home in the 600 block of Spooner Court. When the victim was allowed to leave the house, deputies took him into protective custody. They later arrested Esquivel, Figueroa and Martinez.
Authorities ask anyone with information about Sandoval’s whereabouts to call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Tipsters can send emails at www.stancrimetips.org or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing “Tip704” plus a message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.