Nathanael Santiago Reyes, 27, to be sentenced in case involving catalytic converters
One of two men charged with stealing catalytic converters in Buellton earlier this month has pleaded no contest to two felonies and is scheduled to be sentenced today to two years in state prison.
Defendant Nathanael Santiago Reyes, 27, of El Monte, appeared in court on March 15 to confirm a date for a preliminary hearing and instead entered a no-contest plea to charges of felony evading and felony receiving stolen property, Deputy District Attorney Nick Harmon told the News-Press.
“As part of the plea agreement, the remaining count (felony conspiracy) was dismissed against him,” the prosecutor said.
His co-defendant, Bryan Arciniega, 32, of Los Angeles, was in court on March 15, too, and waived his right to a preliminary hearing within 10 court days, so a preliminary hearing tentatively set for the next day was vacated.
“He is set to return to court on April 5 for preliminary hearing setting,” Prosecutor Harmon said.
Mr. Arciniega remains charged with conspiracy to commit grand theft of personal property and receiving stolen property, both felonies. He also is charged with bringing or sending drugs into the Main Jail in Santa Barbara, another felony.
Like Mr. Reyes, Mr. Arciniega pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment.
Prosecutors allege the pair collected gloves, a hydraulic jack and multiple reciprocating saws with metal blades, drove to the Santa Ynez Valley, identified victim vehicles and used tools to access catalytic converters. The stolen catalytic converters had a value exceeding $950.
They were arrested on March 5 after deputies responded around 5 a.m. to the 500 block of Sertoma Way in Buellton for a report of thefts of catalytic converters in progress.
While they were on their way, a sheriff’s dispatch relayed that the suspects were seen fleeing the area in a Fiat. Deputies spotted a vehicle matching that description near McDonald’s in Buellton.
When deputies attempted to stop the vehicle, the suspects fled, and the driver, later identified as Mr. Reyes, entered the opposing lanes of traffic, driving southbound in the northbound lanes of Highway 101, officials said.
In the interest of public safety, deputies discontinued their pursuit of the vehicle and shared the suspect and vehicle description with the California Highway Patrol, who located the vehicle further south on the 101 in the southbound lanes.
CHP tried to stop the vehicle, and the driver again entered the opposing lanes and the pursuit was terminated, officials said. Law enforcement set up a spike strip on Highway 101 near Las Varas Canyon, where officers successfully disabled the vehicle that was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes.
After a short foot pursuit, Mr. Reyes was taken into custody at 5:28 a.m.
Mr. Arciniega was successfully tracked by a sheriff’s K9 unit to his hiding place in a palm tree and apprehended at 6:30 a.m.
Deputies recovered two catalytic converters from the suspects’ vehicle.