The organizer of a prison break in Southern California has been found guilty
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — An inmate who masterminded a daring, elaborate escape from a Southern California prison in 2016 was found guilty Thursday of the escape but acquitted of kidnapping a taxi driver during the escape, authorities said.
An Orange County Superior Court jury also convicted Hossein Nayeri, 44, of Newport Beach, of stealing the van, but acquitted him of carjacking and lesser offenses, the district attorney’s office said in a statement.
On January 22, 2016, Nyeri and two other men escaped from the Orange County Central Jail Complex in Santa Ana, sparking a week-long manhunt.
Using contraband tools, they cut through a metal grate in their high-security dormitory cell, then climbed through plumbing shafts in the walls to reach the roof, where they descended five stories using a bedlinen rope, according to authorities and cellphone video phone made by Nayeri.
Later, the men kidnapped a 72-year-old taxi driver without a license. The driver was sometimes held at gunpoint while he was transporting people. The men then stole the van and took the cars and driver with them as they drove hundreds of miles north to the San Francisco Bay Area, authorities said.
One of the escapees, Bac Tien Duong, later feared the driver would be killed and fled with him back to Southern California, authorities said.
Nayeri and Jonathan Tiu were arrested the next day in San Francisco after a man recognized them from media reports, prosecutors said.
Duong was convicted of escape and kidnapping in 2021. Prosecutors said Tiu is awaiting trial for escape.
While on the run, Nayeri was awaiting trial on charges that he and two friends kidnapped, tortured and mutilated the owner of a marijuana dispensary in 2012. The owner was kidnapped from his Newport Beach home because the burglars falsely believed he had buried $1 million in the Mojave Desert, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said he was beaten with rubber tubes, shocked with electric shocks, burned with a blowtorch and finally had his penis cut off before the robbers fled.
Naeri fled to Iran. But later he was caught in the Czech Republic and extradited. In 2020, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Naeri’s co-defendants were also convicted.
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