Sacramento Loaves & Fishes volunteer turns out to be a stranger, alleged felon

Head groundskeeper at nonprofit arrested on felony sexual-battery charge

Dave Kempa's independent reporting for this story is funded by a grant from Sacramento Emergency Foodlink.

After living under an assumed name for years, a homeless volunteer at Loaves & Fishes is in court this week for a decade-old sexual-battery case involving a minor.

His former workplace and residence, meanwhile, is reeling from the news and questions surrounding its vetting policies.

Sacramento police booked Roy Ruben Sanchez—who was known at Loaves as Anthony Gonzalez—into county jail following a warrant arrest on April 24, online jail records show. According to Sacramento Superior Court data, the 62-year-old Sanchez was arraigned on two felony counts of committing lewd and lascivious acts upon a girl who was under 18 years old.

The incident allegedly occurred in September 2003, when Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies and child-welfare officers checked in on some children living at a home in an unincorporated area of the county. During the course of that call, a 14-year-old girl claimed Sanchez touched her breast over her clothing, explained sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Jason Ramos.

“Sanchez was a friend of the girl’s father and acting as somewhat of a ’caretaker’ for her and other children at the time,” Ramos told SN&R.

A warrant was ultimately issued for Sanchez, though it would be 10 years before his arrest.

Sanchez evaded apprehension by living under the “Anthony Gonzalez” pseudonym for at least the last eight years. In that time, he volunteered as the full-time head groundskeeper for Sacramento Loaves & Fishes, living in one of the nonprofit’s on-site cabins.

Earlier this year, the Mercy Foundation website ran a “beneficiary story” on Sanchez, then known as Gonzalez. The article painted a portrait of a man who found peace at Loaves after years of inner turmoil and drug addiction. Loaves executive director Sister Libby Fernandez is quoted as calling Sanchez “not an employee, but a critical volunteer who helps beautify the campus for our many guests.”

It was perhaps that “volunteer” status that spared Sanchez from filing paperwork that could have brought to light the felony charges against him.

Loaves & Fishes has a handful of cabins, located adjacent to the Mustard Seed School for homeless children, which the organization often provides to homeless volunteers for shelter. It is in one of these cabins that Sanchez resided.

Fernandez declined to comment, but director of advocacy Joan Burke defended the organization’s policies. She said Loaves & Fishes performs stringent fingerprint and background checks on all Mustard Seed School volunteers, but did not know the policy for the people living in the nearby cabins.

“These are children that we care deeply about,” she said. “We’ll do our best to keep them safe.”

Employees and fellow volunteers knew Sanchez well. As head groundskeeper, he was often seen driving throughout the premises in a golf cart. But in April, employees came to work one day to find that “Anthony” no longer volunteered for them.

Assistant public defender Rich Berson is representing Sanchez. He told SN&R he doesn’t expect any sort of resolution to the case at a hearing scheduled on Thursday, both because of the nature of the charges and the lengthy interim between the alleged offenses and Sanchez’s arrest.

“It’s difficult after 10 years to get an accurate sense of people’s memories, especially when we’re talking about witnesses who were younger,” he said.

Ramos said a detective notified the victim, who would now be in her 20s, of Sanchez’s arrest.

Sanchez spent 15 days on a sheriff’s work-project detail in December 1994.

Eleven years later, a park ranger dropped Sanchez off at Loaves & Fishes, where he initially refused to give his name, the Mercy Foundation article states.

If convicted of the crimes he faces, Sanchez would be required to register as a sex offender.