San Jose Couple Plead Guilty to Baby Brandon Kidnapping

For release on August 3, 2022

CONTACT:

Rebekah Wise
Deputy District Attorney

(408) 808-3752


 

San Jose Couple Plead Guilty to Baby Brandon Kidnapping

A San Jose woman and her boyfriend pleaded to charges that they hatched a series of 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 Wednesday after the judge 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. They 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. A judge can make such an offer if the suspects plead to all charges, which they did. They both faced a maximum of 16 years and four months.

The District Attorney’s Office objected to the judge’s decision, arguing that the defendants should have a sentencing hearing where they both faced the maximum sentence. The DA’s position is that a five-year maximum is too short for the kidnapping and multiple failed attempts to kidnap a child.

The two will be formally sentenced Oct. 28.

“Kidnapping a child is heart-wrenching, terrifying, and extremely serious,” Chief Assistant District Attorney Jay Boyarsky said. “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. He was in cahoots with the grandmother’s friend, Ramirez, who was helping 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. 

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