By Ozzy Hernandez
VENTURA, CA – A mother-son duo were scheduled to be sentenced in Ventura County Superior Court this week after pleading guilty to felony identity theft and conspiracy—but only the son was present in court after his mother was reportedly refusing to come out of her cell, according to her lawyer.
Samir Valdenegro, 21, is a Chilean national and was sentenced to 180 days in Ventura County Jail after Judge Bruce Young found his plea to be “factual.”
The prosecution wasn’t happy with the sentence.
Judge Young imposed the recommended sentencing given by the probation department which includes two years probation in addition to the 180 days, minus time-served, and an estimated $1,700 in restitution.
According to a news release by Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko, on Jan. 8, 2022, Samir and his mother, Theresa Valdenegro, “stole the victim’s purse from her shopping cart at a store in Camarillo” and used her credit cards in stores within the county.
The Valdenegros were ultimately arrested in a Los Angeles hotel by Ventura County deputies.
They are suspected of being members of a so-called South American theft ring that came to the U.S. as “tourists” only to commit these crimes, according to the DA’s office. Similar thefts and robberies have occurred in Oak Park and Moorpark, mainly at night.
Nonetheless, burglaries of this kind have grown in alarming numbers in Southern California, which has led the district attorney to pursue this case aggressively.
During the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Rameen Minoui argued against the recommended sentencing, saying these crimes were of “sophistication” and they wanted a harsher disposition.
Private attorney Nancy Haydt condemned DDA Minoui’s “attempt to enhance” her client’s sentencing, sharply arguing, “I’d like to remind the district attorney that California Racial Justice Act prohibits any kind of enhancement based on country origin.”
Co-defendant Theresa Valdenegro was not present after refusing to get out of her cell. Despite this, the judge has not released a forceful extraction order, pending a meeting with private attorney Haydt.