BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — He was mostly silent when placed in the back of a Kern County Sheriff’s Office patrol car, but Fernando Pruneda gave some indication he knew the reason he was handcuffed.
“I don’t even know what I’m thinking,” Pruneda said when detectives noted this was his second arrest in connection with trying to meet underage boys for sex, according to court documents.
Asked if he lost his job as a McFarland High School basketball coach for his first offense, which occurred in 2018, Pruneda nodded and said, “That’s why they let me go,” the newly-released documents say.
Pruneda, 39, was out of custody less than a month when arrested for allegedly trying to arrange a liaison with a detective posing online as an underage boy.
Charged with three felonies, Pruneda is held without bail. His next court hearing is March 11.
According to the court filings, an account later determined to belong to Pruneda contacted the detective’s decoy account Nov. 13 on the dating app Grindr. The detective’s account said he was a 14-year-old boy.
The documents contain screenshots of their conversation.
Pruneda tells the boy he’s :very handsome” and asks if he wants to meet. He asks the boy’s age, and the detective responds he’ll be 15 next month.
“Oh its koo…Can u go out?” Pruneda asks.
The boy asks if they’ll need condoms. After learning the boy doesn’t have any, Pruneda says they’ll get some.
Pruneda refuses to send the boy a picture of himself.
“Can’t put a picture bro..u know y,” he says.
He agrees to meet at Fruitvale Norris Park in northwest Bakersfield.
Detectives drove an undercover vehicle to the park. They noticed a blue Mazda cruising slowly along the south curbline of Norris Road in front of the park.
To confirm the Mazda was the suspect vehicle, detectives changed the meeting location to a gas station at Fruitvale Avenue and Norris Road, the filings say.
The Mazda entered the parking lot and its driver, Pruneda, was detained and questioned, the filings say. They ran a records check and learned he’d recently served time for a similar offense.
In the earlier case, Pruneda was accused of pursuing a McFarland freshman basketball player for a sexual relationship. Investigators said they found text messages in which he pressured the 14-year-old boy for sexual favors.
A detective in that case sent messages to Pruneda posing as the basketball player, and Pruneda arranged to meet him for sex, sheriff’s officials said.
Pruneda pleaded no contest in October 2020 to contacting a minor to commit a sexual offense and was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to register as a sex offender.
The earlier arrest may have been on Pruneda’s mind Nov. 13 as he sent a message to the decoy account that referenced law enforcement, the documents say.
Pruneda asked, “But like u not like gonna be with cops,” according to the filings.