New details in alleged gang conspiracies involving mother in $4.9 million settlement

Tuesday, October 12, 2021
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A mother who collected part of a multi-million dollar settlement over police killing one of her sons pleaded not guilty Tuesday to arming another son.

Christina Lopez faces 22 charges, mostly related to gang conspiracies.

Lopez sat in court in a green jail jumpsuit Tuesday and let her attorney do the talking.

"Enter pleas of not guilty, deny any special allegations or enhancements," said defense attorney Michael Aed, standing in for Lopez's attorney Ralph Torres.

Five months ago, Lopez accepted her share of a $4.9 million settlement with the city of Fresno over a police officer shooting and killing her son, Isiah Murrietta Golding.

Now, prosecutors accuse her of using the cash to fund another son's gang activity, much of which was monitored by investigators looking into a pair of murders.

RELATED: Detectives prevent a murder, investigation points to family with police shooting settlement

Lopez isn't accused of direct participation. The charges against her stem from four separate alleged conspiracies.

In one case, investigators say she transferred $1000 to her teenage son to buy a gun.

They say he wasn't able to access the money, but he got the sale to go through.

In another case, investigators say Lopez let her son take $1200 from her house to buy another gun.

And in a third, investigators say Lopez was going to help her son dispose of three guns at someone else's house, but she noticed police already at the home.

"I'm not sure that in and of itself even presents facts to establish that a conspiracy existed," Aed said of all four alleged conspiracies.

Twelve conspiracy counts stem from another alleged attempt to retrieve weapons about to be discovered by police.

Investigators say Lopez was going to send someone to get them, but the plan ended with her son and Fady Barhoum picking them up and getting in a police chase.

Legal analyst Tony Capozzi says prosecutors don't often charge conspiracy to evade police against a person who wasn't driving or even in the car, and they don't normally stack up conspiracy charges like this.

"This is really, highly unusual," he said. "Usually on one specific date, there's one conspiracy to commit an illegal act."

Lopez's defense attorney argued to reduce her bail to $250,000.

Prosecutors disagreed.

"It's the People's view that the appropriate bail info thus case would be $1 million," said prosecutor Robert Veneman-Hughes.

The judge compromised, setting bail at $750,000.

The other defendants accused of playing roles in the same conspiracies will be in court Wednesday.

Lopez is due back next month.
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