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Mojonnier’s Son Arrested in Kidnaping

Times Staff Writer

Craig Randal Mojonnier, the son of Assemblywoman Sunny Mojonnier (R-Encinitas), was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of kidnaping a 15-year-old boy in the culmination of what authorities said was a drug deal that went awry.

Police said the victim of the alleged kidnaping, Erick Huff of Cardiff, was held for four days in Los Angeles by a man police described as Mojonnier’s accomplice. Erick was released unharmed one hour after Mojonnier’s arrest.

Erick allegedly was abducted by Mojonnier, 22, and Gary Anthony Chavez, 32, at 2 p.m. Saturday from his home on Legaye Drive in Cardiff. Huff’s father, Howard, said Thursday that Erick left the house with two men who had told Erick his sister had been in a serious accident and he should go with them. He said Erick knew Chavez slightly.

The Huffs received a phone call later Saturday demanding $100,000 for the return of their son. Huff said he negotiated with Chavez for Erick’s return and did not report the kidnaping until Monday night, after the negotiations fell through. “The guy said he was going to turn him loose,” Huff said. “I was trying to offer him as much as I could get ahold of.”

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Sgt. Kurt Fettu, a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department spokesman, said Mojonnier and Chavez wanted to recoup $100,000 that reportedly had been taken from them as the result of “drug activity.” Fettu said he did not know the circumstances or nature of the drug activity. There have been no arrests or charges connected with the alleged drug deal. Fettu said the investigation is continuing.

“I don’t understand the whole thing,” Huff said. “I think (the kidnapers) just wanted money.”

According to Huff, the kidnapers took Erick to their car and sped off. Huff and his wife, Delia, pursued them but lost the car. Police said a witness recognized one of the abductors as Chavez.

Huff said he had never heard of Craig Mojonnier but had met Chavez once.

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Chavez allegedly drove Erick to Los Angeles. Huff said Erick stayed at a Ramada Inn and ate a lot of hamburgers. “He kind of enjoyed it at first,” Huff said. “Then he got very nervous.”

Fettu said investigators learned that Mojonnier was linked with Chavez and tracked him to his home at 226 First St. in Encinitas. Mojonnier’s mother, who is living in Sacramento, also maintains a residence in Encinitas separate from her son.

Fettu said Craig Mojonnier was on the telephone with Chavez when arresting officers arrived at noon Wednesday. He apparently told Chavez he was being arrested, because Erick was released at the Los Angeles Amtrak station one hour later, Fettu said. Erick arrived by train in San Diego at 3:30 p.m.

Mojonnier was charged with kidnap for ransom and is being held without bail at the County Jail in Vista. Chavez is still at large and believed to be in the Los Angeles area, Fettu said.

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Huff said he had spoken to Sunny Mojonnier several times but would not comment on their conversations. “She is just a mother who loves her boy,” Huff said.

Mojonnier missed most of the day’s 11-hour Assembly session in Sacramento, reportedly having gone to San Diego. She arrived in the Assembly chamber about 8:30 p.m., in time to cast a deciding vote for a controversial measure that would allow a major Texas-based optometry chain to do business in California.

After the vote, she left the chamber through a back door reserved for legislators, without talking to reporters.

She has recently been active in sponsoring legislation that would ensure state money for local drug abuse programs.

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A bill she authored that would give counties two years to spend money earmarked for drug services was heard on the Assembly floor Thursday morning. The bill’s sponsor, Nancy Presson, county drug administrator for San Francisco, said Sunny Mojonnier has been helpful in “assuring there is an efficient use of of drug services money.”

In October, Assemblywoman Mojonnier was quoted in a press release saying: “Our needs for drug, alcohol and mental health program expansions are growing faster than other areas, and it’s about time we started getting our fair share of help for our citizens.”

Times staff writer Kenneth F. Bunting in Sacramento contributed to this story.


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