Taft man pleads no contest to looting charge

Doug Keeler
Midway Driller Editor @midwaydriller

The Taft man arrested for stealing from a fire-damaged house has pleaded no contest plea to a felony count of looting.

Robert Xavier Gonzalez, 23, was arrested by Taft Police on May 24 after they noticed him inside a fenced-in area surrounding the house that sustained major damage in a two-alarm fire on May 20. That fire destroyed a vacant home and caused extensive damage to the second structure.

The house had been secured following the fire and the family was removing personal items, according to Taft Police.

Gonzalez pleaded no contest to looting while committing a burglary during a state of emergency at a pretrial hearing on Monday. Two burglary counts were dismissed.

He is being held without bail in after he was remanded into custody for a prior drug conviction and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 13 for the looting conviction.