Former Lake County Sheriff sentenced to 15 months in jail for attempted incest

Summit Daily staff report

Former Lake County undersheriff Fernando Mendoza was sentenced to 15 months in jail for attempted incest late last week.

Mendoza, 49, was sentenced on two counts: attempt to commit first-degree aggravated incest and attempt to commit invasion of privacy for sexual gratification. In addition to 15 months in jail, Mendoza also received a probation term of 10 years to life, meaning any violation of his probation could spur a life sentence.

Mendoza was convicted on the charges by a Lake County jury in December, though was acquitted of two other charges of attempted sexual exploitation of a child and embezzlement of public property.

According to the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Mendoza was “grooming” — building trust to manipulate a child into sexual activity — his stepdaughter during a period in 2012 when she was a teenager. The discovery happened while Mendoza was under investigation following several sexual harassment claims made against him by women at the sheriff’s office.

“Sex offenders come in all stripes, and while shocking that during his service as undersheriff the defendant was an active child predator, it is only fitting that now the stripes he shows will be prison stripes,” said District Attorney Bruce Brown. “We are grateful to the many survivors who bravely came forward to tell the truth. Without their courage, this day of reckoning would never have come.”

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