CHULA VISTA, Calif. - A Chula Vista grandfather accused of leaving his 2-year-old grandson alone on a dark street while he ate a burrito faced a judge on Wednesday.
Frank Moreno has been in jail before. He has a long list of drug and theft charges and that is why the new charges carry a heavy weight of up to 16 years in prison if convicted.
Police say Moreno – who has pleaded not guilty to felony child abuse – was high on narcotics when he abandoned his 2-year-old grandson Isaac on the side of this road over the weekend.
The 53-year-old was eventually found nearly a mile away at a 24-hour taco shop eating a burrito. He could not remember where he had left his grandson.
The toddler was discovered by a Good Samaritan skateboarding in the neighborhood.
"We are very, very lucky that this Good Samaritan found this child and immediately called the police," said prosecutor Mary Loeb. "At that time of night, it's always dangerous to have a child – a 2-year-old who can't care for themselves – alone on the street, which he was."
Chula Vista police issued an advisory for the toddler, but the boy's 17-year-old mother called police soon after in a panic, looking for her son who had been gone for hours.
10News spoke with the young mother at her home. She says her father typically takes good care of her son but that he suffers from mental illness and was not himself.
"He was on medication that we didn’t know of, so that made him, like, forget and made him really stupid," she said.
Police, however, are not as forgiving, saying the grandfather had more than prescription meds in his system.
Also Wednesday, the judge issued a protective order, banning Moreno from having any contact with his 2-year-old grandson.