BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — For the second time in two years, former McFarland High basketball coach Fernando Pruneda has been sentenced to prison after convictions related to pursuing sexual relationships with minors.
Pruneda, 40, was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison. He pleaded no contest last month to three felony counts.
If convicted at trial, Pruneda would have faced a maximum of four years.
Prosecutor Brad Taconi said the plea was not negotiated by the District Attorney’s office and requested the maximum.
“The defendant is a child predator who the community should be afraid of,” he said.
Judge Colette M. Humphrey, however, said Pruneda’s most recent conviction did not involve a child victim but a detective posing as a child online.
Pruneda was arrested in a November online sting operation in which he planned to meet someone he believed was a 14-year-old boy for sex, according to a court filing. Detectives changed the meeting location and Pruneda went to both sites, the filing says. He was arrested at the second location.
In 2018, Pruneda was arrested after a freshman basketball player told authorities the coach pursued him for a sexual relationship and touched him inappropriately under the guise of giving a massage.
That case was resolved in October 2020 when Pruneda pleaded no contest to contacting a minor to commit a sexual offense. He was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to register as a sex offender.