SANTA ANA, Calif. – Charges of stealing unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic were dismissed Tuesday against a convicted killer in Orange County.
Guillermo Rodriguez, 55, was facing nine counts of false statement or representation or concealment, a single count of conspiracy to defraud, and three counts of money laundering. But all of the felony counts were dropped after prosecutors said they were not ready for trial, but defense attorneys said they were ready to proceed, according to court records.
It was not clear if prosecutors intended to refile the charges. A spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to messages.
The dismissal came days after two other co-defendants in the case accepted plea deals.
Rosalva Bahena pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of perjury, 20 counts of false statement or representation or concealment, six counts of money laundering, and a count of conspiracy to defraud, all felonies. Bahena is scheduled to be sentenced on June 1.
Her brother, co-defendant Bruno Galindo, 51, pleaded guilty Wednesday to 20 counts of false statement or representation or concealment, six counts of money laundering, and a count of conspiracy to defraud, all felonies. Galindo is scheduled to be sentenced on March 17.
The two are expected to be sentenced to two years in prison, according to court records. Galindo’s punishment is expected to be consecutive to the sentence he was already serving for attempted murder before he was accused in the unemployment scheme.
When the defendants were charged, prosecutors said they stole at least $50,000.
Galindo, who is in prison, falsely claimed he lost his full-time job at a smoke shop because of the pandemic in August of 2020, according to the criminal complaint. Galindo was convicted of attempted murder in January of 2005 in Riverside County.
Bahena conspired with Galindo to defraud the California Employment Development Department with bogus pandemic-related unemployment claims on behalf of three prisoners, according to the criminal complaint.
Bahena allegedly used the debit cards issued to Galindo and Rodriguez to withdraw money from Bank of America in August, October and November.
Bahena pleaded guilty in December 2016 to a carjacking in a plea bargain that led to the dismissal of charges of kidnapping, car theft, and buying or receiving a stolen vehicle, according to court records. She was sentenced to three years in prison in February 2017.
Rodriguez was sentenced to 110 years to life in prison in December 2010 for strangling his married neighbor, who had multiple sclerosis, after he caught her in bed with his 18-year-old son.
The Fullerton resident was convicted for the Oct. 15, 2006, strangulation death of 43-year-old Donna Dutton at the Streams apartment complex at 1251 Deerpark Drive.
Rodriguez also pleaded guilty in February 1997 to robbery and assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced then to four years in prison.