Bishop Shot in Robbery Attempt Arrested

By John Asbury
The Press-Enterprise
December 31, 2009

(EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story contained incorrect information. Bishop Anthony Martinez Garduno served at St. Edwards Parish in Corona until 1993.)

A church bishop shot earlier this year in an attempted robbery was arrested on suspicion of selling narcotics and is being investigated on suspicion of sexual assault.

Authorities served a search warrant Tuesday at Our Lady of Tepeyac Church in Home Gardens, an Old Catholic fellowship outside Corona. Sheriff's investigators found evidence the man was selling narcotics from the church, according to a Riverside County sheriff's report.

Following the search, police arrested Bishop Antony Martinez Garduno, 51, of Home Gardens, on suspicion of burglary, selling narcotics, possession of methamphetamine and possession of a controlled substance, sheriff's officials said.

Authorities began investigating Garduno after a Dec. 21 report alleging sexual assault on children at the church in the 13000 block of Magnolia Avenue, according to the report.

A man reportedly told authorities he was molested by Garduno when he was 17. He said he also knew of other youths who claimed to be victimized by the bishop and were sold methamphetamine, the report stated.

At the church, sheriff's deputies found evidence related to possible sexual assaults that took place at the church, the report stated.

Garduno's arrest was not on suspicion of sexual assault and no charges have been filed.

Garduno is a defrocked Roman Catholic priest who was tried for heresy and schism in 1996 for forming his own church. He left St. Edwards Parish in Corona in 1993 after he was accused of asking a man to strip during a marriage counseling session. He later filed a lawsuit and denied any inappropriate activity.

Sheriff's officials are looking for any possible victims.

Detectives are trying to find out whether sexual assaults may have occurred without the victims' knowledge or while they were under the influence of drugs, Riverside County sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez said.

After Garduno was shot at the church in September, five men were charged with attempted murder and robbery. Deputies said Garduno confronted the men during a robbery attempt, and they wounded him.

The five, Willis Bagley, Anthony Coleman, Timothy Jacquemain, Andrew Swindle, and Jaccob Buschow, were arrested after a police chase. They were accused of going on a robbery spree at Denny's restaurants from Los Angeles to Norco.

"At the time, we thought it was a random incident, but now we believe the suspects may have known the bishop kept narcotics and large amounts of cash at the church," Gutierrez said.

Garduno was jailed and could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Bail was set at $25,000. No one at the church answered the phone or returned calls seeking comment.

Authorities are asking anyone with information to call the Jurupa Valley sheriff's station at 951-955-2600.

Reach John Asbury at 951-763-3451 or


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.