Charges filed against women in alleged baby hoax

Feb 25, 2012, 6:02 AM

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) – Misdemeanor charges were filed Friday against two women who allegedly made up a story about finding a newborn baby at a gas station, Long Beach city prosecutors said.

Police later learned one of the women was the infant’s mother.

Paloma Espinoza, 28, was charged with one misdemeanor count each of child endangerment and child abandonment for abandoning the child and fabricating a story that she found the baby in a plastic bag outside a gas station, prosecutors said in a statement. She was taken into custody Friday and was being held on $50,000 bail, police said. Her arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday.

Her mother, Sonia Ines Hernandez, 52, was charged with filing a false police report and obstructing a police investigation. Hernandez, who was not taken into custody, also is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

Espinoza gave birth to the baby girl on Monday at home and brought the child to her mother, who told police she found the newborn that night at a USA Gas station in Long Beach, police Sgt. Rico Fernandez told City News Service.

Fernandez said Espinoza initially told her mother she found the baby, but her mother later learned Espinoza had given birth to the child. Police believe Hernandez knowingly told police that she herself had found the child at the gas station.

The younger woman apparently “wanted to protect a relationship she was in,” Fernandez told CNS. He declined to elaborate.

Espinoza was found driving around the area of the gas station late Monday and, when questioned, told police she didn’t realize she was pregnant until she gave birth that day, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported.

She said personal issues made it impossible for her to care for the child, so she gave the baby to her mother, police said.

The infant is recovering and in stable condition at a local hospital, prosecutors said.

“What these women did is outrageous,” Long Beach city prosecutor Doug Haubert said in the statement. “The fact that they lied to police about the identity of the baby and the facts surrounding its birth is shocking enough, but even worse is the fact that these lies jeopardized the health of a newborn child.”

No charges would have been filed if the mother had taken advantage of California’s “Safe Surrender” law, which provides immunity to a parent who surrenders an infant at a hospital or fire station within 72 hours of birth, with no questions asked.

Each woman faces up to two years in county jail if convicted. Assistant City Prosecutor Randall Fudge did not know if they had attorneys.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Charges filed against women in alleged baby hoax