San Jose Couple Plead Guilty to Baby Brandon Kidnapping

A San Jose woman and her boyfriend entered no contest pleas Wednesday  to charges that they hatched a series of what prosecutors called “bizarre attempts to kidnap an infant, now known widely as Baby Brandon.”

Yesenia Ramirez, 43, and Jose Portillo, 28, both made their no contest pleas Aug. 3 after Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Nona Klippen said she would sentence Ramirez to a maximum of 14 years. The judge said she would sentence Portillo to a maximum of five years in prison.

District Attorney Jeff Rosen objected to the judge’s decision, arguing in a statement that the defendants should have a sentencing hearing where they both would face the maximum sentence.

“A five-year maximum is too short for the kidnapping and multiple failed attempts to kidnap a child,” Rosen said in a statement.

The two will be formally sentenced Oct. 28.

The pair, according to a statement released by Rosen, “effectively pleaded guilty to eight charges including kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, conspiracy, burglary, and vehicle tampering, for cutting the brakes on Brandon’s mother’s car.”

Under the law, a judge can offer sentences if the suspects plead to all charges, which they did. Each faced a maximum of 16 years and four months.

“Kidnapping a child is heart-wrenching, terrifying, and extremely serious,” Chief Assistant District Attorney Jay Boyarsky said in a statement. “The work of the officers at the San Jose Police Department to recover Baby Brandon, and their work to uncover all parts of this plot including the multiple failed kidnap attempts was outstanding.”

Evidence uncovered during the investigation showed that Ramirez and Portillo plotted and unsuccessfully attempted to kidnap the San Jose infant at least four other times, dating back weeks before the actual kidnapping on April 25 when Brandon was 3-months-old.

In one attempt, Portillo posed as a Child Protective Services (CPS) worker who was there to take custody of the baby. The suspicious family refused to give up Brandon.

The kidnapping last month sparked a frantic search for the child who was taken from his grandmother’s care by a mysterious man carrying a car seat. That man turned out to be Portillo.

Portillo, according to prosecutors, had plotted with the grandmother’s friend, Ramirez, to help Brandon’s grandmother take care of the baby that day. San Jose police rescued the infant less than 18 hours after he was kidnapped and soon arrested the two suspects.


One Comment

  1. There’s another story right next to this one which identifies the U. S. District Court judge who denied an injunction. But this “story” is almost word-for-word identical to a press release from the D.A.’s office:

    A slight difference is that this version includes the phrase “Under the law,”. That indicates that someone at SJI made a call to the phone number of the deputy D. A. in the news release. The D.A. seems to be making one or all of the following points:

    1. This particular judge let these people off too easy. It’s understandable why the D. A. wouldn’t refer to a judge by name in a public statement. SJI should figure out and include the name of the judge. It’s part of the “who, what, when, …” of the story.

    2. The D.A. doesn’t agree with the particular “law”. It must be somewhere in the penal code about when a judge accepts a plea or when a judge determines a sentence. Usually a prosecutor would negotiate a plea bargain and both sides come to court in agreement, but here the D.A. seems to have been bypassed. If we knew the rest of the story we might email our assemblymember or at least understand that we voted for this in some state initiative.

    3. The D.A. doesn’t have a beef with this judge or this law, but wants everyone to think he’s tough on crime. A reporter should call the other side for more of the story.

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