A man with a star tattooed over his throat illegally parked his car in front of the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana Monday afternoon to put money in his wife's jail account.
That only would have earned 29-year-old Gerardo Jose Jimenez a parking ticket were it not for this: left unattended in the vehicle were his three daughters–an 8-month-old infant, a 21-month-old toddler and a 7-year-old girl, according to police.
That move sent the Garden Grove resident to jail himself for alleged child cruelty.
An off-duty Orange County sheriff's deputy called police around 5 p.m. Monday after spotting the girls inside a Honda Accord parked outside the jail at Sixth and Flower streets, according to Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, the Santa Ana Police spokesman, who added the car's windows were rolled down and the engine was turned off.
The deputy asked people in front of the building if they were related to the children (negative), then went into the jail to see if he could find a parent, which led him to Jimenez, who explained he was the father of the girls and not to worry because he left the air conditioner on, Bertagna related.
Of course, if the engine was off … well, you get the idea.
Anyway, Jimenez told cops he couldn't find anywhere to park, didn't want to take the children into the building with him because his youngest daughter was asleep and wouldn't be in the jail facility very long, Bertagna said.
But leaving them alone at all is against the law, noted the police spokesman, who added that investigators believe the girls were unattended for at least five minutes before the deputy spotted them. It was about 80 degrees outside at the time, Bertagna said.
Jimenez was arrested on suspicion of child cruelty and held in lieu of $100,000 bail. The kids got a trip to Orangewood Children's Home.