LAW ENFORCEMENT SEEKS PUBLIC’S HELP APPREHENDING FOURTH DEFENDANT CHARGED WITH 1998 COLD CASE CONSPIRACY MURDER OF WIFE TO COLLECT $1 MILLION LIFE INSURANCE POLICY


Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

For Immediate Release
Case # 12NF0387






April 10, 2012

Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
Office: 714-347-8408
Cell: 714-292-2718

Farrah Emami
Spokesperson
Office: 714-347-8405
Cell: 714-323-4486

LAW ENFORCEMENT SEEKS PUBLIC’S HELP APPREHENDING FOURTH DEFENDANT CHARGED WITH 1998 COLD CASE CONSPIRACY MURDER OF WIFE TO COLLECT $1 MILLION LIFE INSURANCE POLICY

 

FULLERTON – Law enforcement is seeking the public’s help apprehending a fourth defendant charged with the cold case conspiracy to murder a man’s wife in 1998 to collect a $1 million life insurance policy. The on-going investigation from the Anaheim Police Department (APD) and Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) Office has led to the issuance of an arrest warrant for Guillermo Espinoza, 37, a gang member who is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder, one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder, and sentencing enhancements for murder for financial gain, murder in the commission of a robbery, and criminal street gang activity. If convicted, Espinoza faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

 

Nuzzio Begaren, 51, Jose Luis Sandoval, 36, and Rafael Garcia Miranda, 45, have each been charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder, one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder, and sentencing enhancements for murder for financial gain and murder in the commission of a robbery. Sandoval and Miranda face an additional sentencing enhancement for criminal street gang activity. If convicted, each of the defendants face a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. All three are being held without bail. Begaren is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on May 4, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. in Department N-3, North Justice Center, Fullerton. Sandoval is scheduled for a continued arraignment hearing, May 4, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. in Department N-3. Miranda is scheduled for a continued arraignment hearing April 27, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. in Department N-3.

 

Circumstances of the Case

On July 4, 1997, Nuzzio Begaren married Elizabeth Begaren, a correctional officer at a California state prison. Three days later, on July 7, 1997, he is accused of taking out a $1 million life insurance policy on his new wife.

 

Sometime between July 1997 and January 1998, Nuzzio Begaren is accused of soliciting members of a Los Angeles criminal street gang to murder Elizabeth Begaren.

 

On the night of Jan. 17, 1998, Nuzzio Begaren is accused of taking the victim and his 10-year-old daughter to a shopping mall in Burbank with the knowledge that Sandoval and other gang members would be waiting to carry out the arranged murder. While shopping in Macy’s, Nuzzio Begaren is accused of placing $5,000 in cash in his wife’s purse as payment for the pending murder under the pretense of having her hold their shopping money. Nuzzio Begaren is accused of pretending to be alarmed upon seeing a group of gang members watching him and his family. He is accused of leaving with Elizabeth Begaren and his daughter.

 

At approximately 11:00 p.m. that night, Sandoval and his accomplices are accused of following Nuzzio Begaren and the victim in their car. Nuzzio Begaren is accused of exiting California State Route 91 in Anaheim and then attempting to re-enter the freeway. Sandoval and the other gang members are accused of running him off the road.

 

The gang members are accused of getting out of the vehicle armed with firearms and approaching the victim. Nuzzio Begaren is accused of getting out of the driver’s seat under the pretense of moving to the back of the vehic