New charges against seven accused of aiding alleged killer of Newman police corporal

See web of suspects tied to the shooting of Newman Police officer

These eight people face charges in connection with the death of Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh.
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These eight people face charges in connection with the death of Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh.

Seven undocumented immigrants accused of aiding the man who allegedly gunned down Newman police Cpl. Ronil Singh the day after Christmas now face six new charges relating to fraudulent identification documents, the U.S. Department of Justice reported.

In Fresno on Thursday, a federal grand jury returned a nine-count superseding indictment against Erik Razo Quiroz, 29, of Merced; Adrian Virgen Mendoza, 25, of Fairfield; Conrado Virgen Mendoza, 34, of Chowchilla; Erasmo Villegas Suarez, 36, of Buttonwillow; Ana Leydi Cervantes Sanchez, 31, of Newman; Bernabe Madrigal Castaneda, 59, of Lamont; and Castaneda’s wife, Maria Luisa Moreno, 57, of Lamont. It adds the ID fraud to previous charges of conspiring to harbor an undocumented immigrant (accused killer Paulo Virgen Mendoza) and, in Razo’s case, being a felon and an unlawful immigrant in possession of a firearm.

In the new indictment, Mendoza’s brothers, Conrado Virgen Mendoza and Adrian Virgen-Mendoza, also are charged with using a false Social Security number and possessing a false lawful permanent resident card, or green card, to secure employment. Another relative, Erasmo Villegas-Suarez, is also charged with using a false Social Security number to gain work.

All seven defendants are charged with conspiring to hide Mendoza and helping him evade authorities, and making plans to smuggle him back to Mexico. The alleged aid included transporting and housing him, providing him with clothes, money and a cell phone, and wiring money to smuggle him out of the country.

Mendoza’s brothers are accused of transporting him following the shooting. Quiroz is accused of getting rid of the weapon and concealing Mendoza’s truck.

Sanchez, who is Mendoza’s girlfriend, is said to have provided a change of clothes for him and witnessed attempts by others to conceal his truck.

Singh was gunned down during a traffic stop early the morning of Dec. 26. After being flagged down by a resident, the corporal had stopped Mendoza, a suspected drunk driver, at Merced Street and Eucalyptus Avenue. After a 55-hour manhunt, Mendoza was arrested near Bakersfield.

The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office has filed a criminal complaint against Mendoza, charging him with murder and a special circumstances enhancement that makes the case eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors have not announced whether they will seek the death penalty. He is scheduled to return to court April 8.

Deke has been an editor and reporter with The Modesto Bee since 1995. He currently does breaking-news, education and human-interest reporting. A Beyer High grad, he studied geology and journalism at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento.