A fugitive minister who preached at churches in Martinez and Pleasant Hill while engaged in a sexual relationship with an underage girl has been returned for sentencing in the United States after fleeing to Mexico following his conviction on child molestation charges last year.
Fernando Maldonado has been extradited back to the U.S. from Mexico and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 13, 2018 at 10 a.m. before Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Clare Maier.
Maldonado was charged by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office and arrested in 2015. He was released on $1.29 million bail and appeared for trial on December 4, 2017, failing to keep a court date on December 11. The trial proceeded without him and on December 13, 2017, Maldonado was convicted on 23 counts.
Investigators determined that Maldonado fled to Mexico to avoid sentencing and incarceration, leaving the country on or about December 9. The District Attorney’s Office partnered with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office Fugitive Unit and the United States Marshals Service in an attempt to locate Maldonado and return him to Contra Costa County for sentencing.
Maldonado was deported by the Mexican government and returned to the United States Tuesday. He was flown to Los Angeles International Airport from Mexico City and booked at the Los Angeles Police Department jail. Maldonado will be transported back to Contra Costa County once his extradition has been approved by a Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles County.
Maldonado, 37, allegedly abused a girl less than 16 years old while a minister at two local churches. Her abuse began when Maldonado, then a Concord resident, ministered at Morello Avenue Baptist Church in Martinez. The church no longer operates.
In 2014, Maldonado left that church to become a minister at Grace Bible Church in Pleasant Hill, with the victim also attending that church and the alleged contact continued, according to investigators.