SANTA ANA, California – A certified nursing assistant who worked at a Southern California group home for severely disabled patients has been sentenced to life in federal prison for committing multiple child exploitation crimes, including filming himself sexually abusing several severely disabled children at the group home facility, while he was working as their nighttime caretaker, the Justice Department announced today.
Steve Jackson Rodriguez, 38, of Pomona, was sentenced late Friday afternoon by United States District Judge John W. Holcomb, who said at the hearing that Rodriguez’s crimes constituted “unspeakable acts.” Judge Holcomb scheduled a restitution hearing in this case for March 10.
Rodriguez pleaded guilty in September 2022 to two counts of obtaining custody of a minor for the purposes of producing child pornography, five counts of production of child pornography, and one count of enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity.
From January 2016 to May 2020, Rodriguez produced sexually explicit images and videos with four minor victims, three of whom were severely disabled patients being housed at an Inland Empire group home that employed Rodriguez. One of the disabled victims was 8 years old when Rodriguez began filming his illegal sexual conduct – two years after he began abusing this victim.
“Rodriguez had a duty as medical caregiver was to keep his victims safe and alive, but he instead violated that trust in the most despicable way,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “His abhorrent abuse of disabled children was intolerable and properly sanctioned by the court. This result underscores our office’s determination to zealously prosecute those who commit these sorts of horrific crimes against children.”
“Rodriguez took advantage of our most vulnerable population. The horror he inflicted upon these children was unconscionable. Homeland Security Investigations will stop at nothing, in order to bring people like Rodriguez to justice,” said Eddy Wang Acting Special Agent in Charge Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles.
In a related matter, during a five-day trial in November 2022, co-defendants Cyr Dino Banguguilan, 36, of Azusa, and Miguel Bocardo, 23, of Baldwin Park, to whom Rodriguez sent the sexually explicit material he made with his victims, each was found guilty of one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.
Judge Holcomb scheduled a February 24 sentencing hearing, at which time Banguguilan and Bocardo will face a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison and a statutory maximum of 20 years in federal prison.
Homeland Security Investigations investigated this matter as part of the Los Angeles Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The United States Postal Inspection Service; the FBI; the Baldwin Park Police Department; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; the Los Angeles Police Department; the Pomona Police Department; and the Burbank Police Department provided assistance.
Assistant United States Attorneys Scott M. Lara and Catharine A. Richmond of the Violent and Organized Crime Section are prosecuting this case.