Lawyer flew to the Philippines from Sacramento to molest teen, feds say

6 min read

Balbino Guerrero Sablad - FACEBOOK

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A 79-year-old former San Francisco City Attorney was named in a two-count indictment this week for allegedly traveling overseas from Sacramento to engage in illicit sex with an underage girl.

Federal prosecutors allege that Balbino Guerrero Sablad, who goes by Bal, flew to the Philippines in 2019 with the intention of having sex with a 15-year-old girl. He’s been charged with travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and conspiracy to do the same.

According to a criminal complaint filed earlier this month, one of Sablad’s immediate family members contacted the FBI National Threat Operations Center in July of 2020, claiming Sablad had gone to the Philippines to “have sex with minors.” The family member said they knew he traveled to the country in Southeast Asia and began searching through his Facebook account, apparently suspicious of the frequent trips.

What Sablad’s loved one found was shocking. The individual poured through troves of messages on Sablad’s Facebook account, locating countless communications with girls and women located in the Philippines. Some of the messages contained nude photos, including several from 2015 depicting a 13-year-old girl.

In one chat that took place on April 5th, 2019, Sablad got reacquainted with a child he previously knew.

“Hi,” Sablad said. “Last time I saw you, you were not yet a teenager then. Now, you are already 23 and beautiful.”

The child responded “Thank you sir. I am not 23 yet, but I am already a teenager. I will be 15 in June.”

Sablad then sent 15,000 Philippine Pesos, or $300.10, to an account belonging to the girl’s grandmother. Because the girl was a teenager, Sablad said, he was hesitant to send the money directly to her. In the span of three months, according to federal agents, Sablad sent over ₱90,000 – around $1,800 – to the same girl from a joint bank account he controlled with his wife.

On May 2nd, Sablad allegedly began to fantasize further about the girl.

“When I get home there and we happen to be beside each other, that will be all the way, but without a baby, because you will be pitiful, we will only be on our honeymoon,” Sablad wrote, later confessing to having nocturnal emissions, or “wet dreams”, about the child.

“When I get home there, I will hug you very tightly, then that’s it. It won’t be WD anymore, it will be real, yipeee!” he said.

Sablad allegedly communicated with his personal driver, Ferdinand Martin, and offered to share the girl with him.

“I will share her with you,” Sablad wrote, “I already had my hair color in black. So that I will look handsome for the 15 years old.”

The 79-year-old Sablad allegedly planned to fly to Manila, the capital of the Philippines, on August 14, 2019 to meet with his desired child victim. Sablad and the girl were going to meet up outside of a Jollibee restaurant near the Guadalupe Mall, however, that plan fell through when the girl’s aunt discovered her niece’s messages.

“Ate Queen is mad,” the girl said, using the Tagalog word for “Aunt”. “She knew, sir.”

Sablad brushed it off. “Your Ate Queen sent a PM to me. She scolded me. So, I also scolded her,” he said. “I told her that she is the one who is deceitful. She said that she will remove your FB. If she does that, you just create a new FB account and don’t use your own name.”

On August 12, the girl stopped writing to Sablad. Messages logged and transcribed by federal authorities show he sent several unanswered messages from August 12th to August 21st. After the girl didn’t show for the scheduled date at Jollibee, Sablad allegedly began to make legal threats.

“BTW, you owe me the total of ₱ 170K,” Sablad typed. “YOU NEED TO PAY THIS BACK, OR I WILL BRING A LAWSUIT AGAINST YOU AND YOUR GRANDMOTHER TO WHOM YOU TOLD ME TO SEND THE MONEY. This is not a joke. The lawsuit will be in the name of your grandmother and you. I have complete evidence.”

Agents say travel records show Sablad returned to the US empty-handed in October of 2019, his attempts to have sex with the girl having come up short.

After federal authorities finished combing through Sablad’s alleged communication with the 15-year-old, the complaint states, the elderly man’s family member had even more incriminating content to offer them. The individual said they found a chatlog from around 2015 that showed Sablad receiving nude photographs from a girl who was just 13 at the time. Prosecutors claim he kept this photo and others for the next five years.

“What is that?” Sablad queried upon receiving the explicit photo, “Is that your vagina?”

“Yes,” the child is said to have replied. “Is it yummy?” she asked.

“Delicious,” Sablad said.

Later, the 13-year-old’s mother found her chats. She too confronted Sablad directly.

“You think I am stupid, Mr. Sablad,” the woman said. “You are shameless about your discussions with my daughter?! Don’t ever message her and don’t meet with my daughter!”

Sablad allegedly fired back with a thinly-veiled attempt to flip the conversation around in an effort to portray himself as the victim.

“YOU ARE A SWEETLY IGNORANT MOTHER,” he wrote in all-caps, angrily. “LOOK AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF THIS ACCOUNT AND YOU WILL SEE SHE POSTED ON HER OWN ACCORD NUDE PHOTOS OF HER PRIVATE PARTS… I WAS THE VICTIM, YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ARE THE PREDATORS!”

According to federal authorities, Sablad traveled to the Philippines in July of 2015 and returned in October. They say he may have paid the 13-year-old girl for sex, however, have been unable to confirm that theory with bank records.

“In addition, it appears from the content of the conversations that SABLAD may have paid [the 13-year-old victim] in exchange for a future sexual encounter,” FBI Special Agent Scott Schofield wrote in an affidavit. “Though the bank records provided by [Sablad’s family member] did not go back to 2015, so I was unable to confirm whether any money was sent during this timeframe.”

A search warrant was obtained for Sablad’s family home in Vallejo. He lived there with his wife, however, moved out by July 11th pursuant to a court-order after the couple got divorced. Authorities say they confiscated an HP laptop, a Compaq Presario computer tower, and several 16GB flash drives from him.

In an interrogation, the feds say, Sablad was informed of his rights and agreed to speak with law enforcement regardless. He claimed his Facebook account had been hacked by several people, however, was unable to pinpoint a specific time the hack occurred. When investigators brought up the explicit photos he allegedly received, Sablad is accused of laughing about it.

“Oh, oh. I remember one, one girl, sent her, on her own accord—not my accord—on her own accord, took a picture of her and sent it to me. And it’s still there?” he asked, chuckling. “It was a long time ago.”

Sablad was arrested on July 1st and pleaded not guilty on Friday. He’s represented by two federal public defenders from Sacramento, Mia Crager and Hannah Rose Labaree. The federal government is represented by Assistant US Attorney Mira Chernick, who will seek to prove Sablad guilty to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

If Sablad is convicted, he faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine, however, the final sentence will be determined by District Judge Troy L. Nunley, who will weigh several statutory factors alongside federal sentencing guidelines.

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