Woman Who Lied About Abandoned Baby Ordered to Pay Restitution

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Sonia Inez Hernandez lied about finding an abandoned baby in February.

Sonia Inez Hernandez, who lied about finding an abandoned baby at a gas station, will have to pay back the city of Long Beach for the search and rescue efforts.

Sonia Ines Hernandez, 52, the woman who fabricated a story about finding an infant abandoned at a gas station, pleaded no contest today to misdemeanor criminal charges and was ordered to repay the City of Long Beach for responding to the hoax, Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert announced today.

Hernandez entered a no contest plea to Superior Court Judge Chet Taylor, who sentenced her immediately. Hernandez’s sentence includes three years probation, 45 days of community service, and an order to pay restitution to the City of Long Beach for all emergency response and investigation costs in an amount to be determined at a future court hearing. Hernandez was also sentenced to serve one year in jail, however, time in jail was “stayed” by Judge Taylor, which means she will not be incarcerated unless she violates probation or an order of the court. 

Around 6:00 p.m. on February 20, 2012, Hernandez called 911 to report she found the infant, and shortly thereafter described to police and reporters how she discovered the baby girl in a bag in the corner of the gas station located in Long Beach. Many news agencies ran with the story. Hours later, police learned that Hernadez fabricated the story, instead receiving the baby from her 28-year old daughter, Paloma Espinoza, who gave birth in an apartment but did not want the baby.

Police and paramedics rushed the infant to a local hospital. The baby was in critical condition with a low body core temperature, but survived, and is now under the care of the Department of Children and Family Services.

Hernandez was charged by City Prosecutor Haubert with filing a false police report and obstructing police officers in their investigation. Paloma Espinoza still faces charges of child endangerment and child abandonment, and could be sentenced to up to two years if found guilty of all charges.

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

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