Richmond man’s latest car wreck results in 7-year prison sentence

Saul Espinoza caused this crash on Oct. 4, 2018, when he attempted to flee a traffic stop on Lucas Avenue in Richmond on Oct. 4, 2018. (Photo courtesy of RPD)

A Richmond man responsible for two major car wrecks in the city in the last four years was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Saul Espinoza, 32, pleaded guilty on Aug. 20 to charges stemming from a crash in Richmond on Oct. 4, 2018, when he attempted to flee a traffic stop and flipped his Toyota 4Runner on its driver’s side, federal prosecutors said.

Leading up to the crash, police said, Espinoza had pulled in front of a patrol vehicle near 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, immediately began accelerating, and after officers attempted to pull him over, he tried to evade them and later failed to negotiate a turn onto Lucas Avenue. No one was injured in the incident, and Espinoza was found in possession of a Springfield XD-40 0.40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, with a fully loaded 16 round magazine, and narcotics were found in his vehicle.

“Espinoza admitted that at the time of these events he was a convicted felon and therefore was not eligible to possess a firearm,” prosecutors said.

It wasn’t the first time Espinoza caused a crash while fleeing police. In November 2015, he was arrested after fleeing a traffic stop in San Pablo and later causing a high-speed crash involving several vehicles near the intersection of 29th Street and McBryde Avenue in Richmond, according to news reports.

San Pablo police claimed they didn’t even initiate the chase, saying Espinoza was “likely doing 80 miles per hour or more on 29th” before causing the accident, reported KTVU (Ch. 2). No bystanders were seriously injured in the crash, and Espinoza had to be rescued with the Jaws of Life. Police reported finding a loaded gun and two ounces of methamphetamine inside Espinoza’s car, adding that Espinoza was on parole for fleeing from police with a gun and drugs back in 2012, according to KTVU.

Following his latest crash in Oct. 4, 2018, Espinoza was indicted by a federal grand jury in February, which led to a plea agreement with prosecutors. In addition to the prison term, the judge sentenced Espinoza to a three-year term of supervised release.