SANTA ANA – A $1 million warrant was issued Monday for the arrest of a gang member who failed to appear for his jury trial on charges that he participated in a home-invasion robbery of a transgender brothel after first trying to tax the prostitutes.
Cesar Valle, 22, faced a life term in prison if convicted of robbery, burglary and other charges. But with potential jurors waiting outside Superior Court Judge W. Michael Hayes’ courtroom Monday morning, Valle – free on $100,000 bail – was a no show.
Hayes issued the arrest warrant when Valle could not be located by 3 p.m.
Valle and co-defendant Christian F. Cabrera, 22, were arrested in April 2010 after Santa Ana police were dispatched to an apartment on North Ross Street on a call of a home-invasion robbery in progress. By the time police arrived, the robbers were gone.
But police did find seven men dressed as women in the small apartment with several mattresses on the floor, according to Deputy District Attorney Erik Petersen. One victim had a deep laceration on his head, and all appeared to be frightened and some were crying, according to court records.
One of the men admitted that the apartment was a front for a transgender brothel and said three gang members came by earlier in the evening and demanded a “tax” of $60 per prostitute, Petersen said. One of the gang members threatened, “If you don’t pay … we will come back and kill you,” according to a transcript of a prior hearing.
A victim reported that Valle and others returned around midnight on April 17, assaulted one of the prostitutes, demanded money, stole a laptop and a cell phone from a table and fled in a white sedan before police arrived, according to the transcript.
Valle and Cabrera were arrested three days later when they cruised by the apartment in a white sedan while police detectives were conducting a follow-up interview, Petersen said. A witness blurted “that’s the vehicle” and the two men were arrested, according to the transcript.
Cabrera pleaded guilty in 2010 to street-gang activity and second-degree robbery and is serving a five-year prison term.
By LARRY WELBORN / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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