A former Fresno resident who skipped town after being convicted 23 years ago of child molestation was sentenced Monday in Fresno County Superior Court to eight years in prison.
Judge Brian Alvarez said “the law finally caught up” with 55-year-old Arturo Rangel, who was living in Oregon when U.S. Marshals Service agents arrested him in August.
In 1993, Rangel was arrested on four counts of lewd acts with a child under 14, and one count of annoying or molesting a child under 18. In a plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to one felony lewd act charge and was told he would received six years in prison.
Before sentencing, then-Judge Gene Gomes allowed Rangel to be released from jail so he could attend to personal matters. At the time, Gomes warned Rangel that he faced eight years in prison if he failed to show up for court.
Rangel never returned to court.
Earlier this year, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office received a tip that Rangel was living in southwestern Oregon. With the help of the U.S. Marshals Service, Rangel was tracked down in Myrtle Point, a small town southeast of Coos Bay.
Arturo Rangel led a crime-free life while a fugitive for 23 years, his lawyer said.
At Monday’s hearing, Rangel said he was sorry and asked the judge for leniency. His attorney, Marina Gonzales, said Rangel, who also goes by Arturo Rangel Mendoza, tried to surrender to authorities in 2006 and had led a crime-free life while a fugitive.
Prosecutor Nicole Galstan, however, said, there was no proof that Rangel tried to turn himself in.
In announcing the punishment, Alvarez told Rangel that he should expect nothing less than the maximum prison sentence because he took advantage of the victim, never considered surrendering to authorities and was “a serious danger to society.”