Former Fugitive Sentenced to Prison

Ramon Ceja Had Been on the Run Since 1998

A man who spent time on the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s “Most Wanted” webpage, eluding arrest for almost 14 years, was sentenced Monday morning.

Ramon Ceja, 46, will serve five years and eight months in state prison after entering pleas on charges of false imprisonment, dissuading a witness, and three counts of child abandonment.

After a judge determined there was enough evidence to go to trial at a preliminary hearing in 1998, Ceja, out on bail, never showed to his next court appearance. Authorities believe he lived out of the country for a while and that he also spent some time in Arizona, said Deputy District Attorney Benjamin Ladinig.

The Sheriff’s felony fugitive unit began reexamining Ceja’s case in 2011 and, based on child support payments, was able to develop information about a possible address where he was living. But prior to further investigation, Ceja turned himself in April 2012.

Ladinig said “difficulties with proof in the case” led to a resolution prior to trial.

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