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Ex-Santa Ana gang member who escaped from juvenile hall in 1990 is captured

March 05, 2009|Christine Hanley

A onetime Santa Ana gang member who escaped juvenile hall while awaiting sentencing for a violent drive-by shooting was captured Wednesday after eluding authorities for 20 years.

Baldomero Johnny Diaz, 36, allegedly dodged the police by assuming new identifies and mutilating his fingertips so his prints couldn't be traced.

Authorities said Diaz avoided detection even though he was arrested twice during his alleged run from the law.

Diaz was arrested at his Menifee home and was scheduled to be turned over to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation today to begin serving a prison term.

His case dates back to October 1989, when he was 17-year-old member of a street gang known as the Little Hood Crips. At a party in Santa Ana, authorities said, Diaz and other Crips argued with members of the Baby Shelly Street Bloods. Later, authorities said, Diaz was at the wheel of a stolen car when 17 shots were fired at the Bloods, injuring six of them.

Diaz and four other gang members were prosecuted in the drive-by shooting. Diaz was tried as an adult and convicted in August 1990 of six felony counts of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation.

A month later, Diaz escaped juvenile hall in Orange by crawling through a hole in a fence and scaling a second fence. A second juvenile -- in custody for unrelated crimes -- escaped with him but was later captured.

His defense attorney told The Times in 1990 that his client was "absolutely depressed," and confused by the verdict because he had cooperated fully with police.

Orange County prosecutors began investigating Diaz's whereabouts last month after learning he had been using several false names, birth dates and Social Security numbers, and had obtained Department of Motor Vehicle IDs using the false information.

Diaz had been arrested in 2001 and prosecuted for prostitution in San Diego County under the name Jaime Gonzalez. In 2006, he was prosecuted for driving under the influence in San Diego County under the name Edgar Francisco Gonzalez.

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christine.hanley@latimes.com

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