MARTINEZ -- A Southern California woman has been found guilty of kidnapping her 4-month-old granddaughter from the child's Knightsen home in 2011 as part of a bizarre scheme to pass off the baby as her own after a fake pregnancy.

Ericka Gallego, 60, faces up to eight years in state prison at her May 24 sentencing. Her actual sentence will be at a judge's discretion, Contra Costa deputy District Attorney Paul Graves said.

A massive search was launched May 22, 2011, when Knightsen residents Kristin and Rudy Gallego awoke to find that the youngest of their four children, Ramy, had been snatched out of her bassinet just inches from their bed while they were sleeping.

Ericka Gallego, of El Monte, Calif. is in custody for allegedly stealing her son’s baby from Northern California last weekend on the May 27, 2011.
Ericka Gallego, of El Monte, Calif. is in custody for allegedly stealing her son's baby from Northern California last weekend on the May 27, 2011. Gallego allegedly stole her son's baby from Northern California last weekend and brought it back to Southern California and pretended it was her own. She told everyone she was pregnant, had a baby shower and decked out her room with baby items. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Keith Durflinger/SVCITY)

Ramy was found -- and Rudy's mother arrested -- 15 hours later by police in El Monte in Los Angeles County. The officers had been called by a woman who was skeptical when Ericka Gallego told her that she had given birth to the 14-pound infant she was calling Katrina two weeks earlier.

Kristin Gallego said Tuesday that her husband has severed all ties with his mother, and they will be seeking a permanent restraining order at the sentencing.

"She has no remorse, and has never shown any remorse," said Kristin Gallego, 32. "He was really hoping for a high sentence. He worries about her manipulating someone else to do harm to our family."


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The judge convicted Gallego of kidnapping and burglary on Monday based on police reports. Gallego waived her right to a jury trial, and had refused plea deal offers, Graves said. Gallego's public defender could not be reached for comment.

Ericka Gallego had just visited her son and his family a couple weeks before the kidnapping and used an alarm code she had obtained during the visit to break into the house in the middle of the night.

The visit had coincided with when she had told friends she was in the hospital giving birth. She had been pretending to be pregnant by an ex-boyfriend for months and had set up a nursery in her home.

Although friends and acquaintances said that while most people didn't believe the slender 58-year-old was pregnant, many attended the baby shower she threw for herself. Ericka Gallego hired a professional photographer to shoot the event, and spent $2,000 on mariachis.

When her son called in a panic to alert her that her granddaughter was missing, Ericka Gallego brushed him off.

"She's a sociopath and, in my opinion, has only ever cared about her own intentions," Kristin Gallego said. "She is definitely never welcome around our family again."

Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.