A criminal mastermind serving a life sentence for a gruesome crime has been found guilty of a daring and elaborate escape. With two other inmates, he climbed through the prison’s plumbing to the roof before rappelling down five stories using a rope made out of bed sheets. Although he was found guilty of fleeing, he was acquitted of kidnapping a taxi driver while fleeing.
The Orange County, Calif., jury found Hossein Nayeri, 44, guilty of escaping prison and stealing a pickup truck, but acquitted him of kidnapping and other, lesser charges.
On January 22, 2016, Nayeri and two other men broke out of the Orange County Central Jail Complex in Santa Ana, leading to a week-long manhunt for the three fugitives.
The inmates used smuggled tools to cut through a metal grille in their high-security cell before climbing through utility shafts inside the walls to reach the roof.
According to authorities and a cellphone video captured by Nayeri, they then rappeled down five stories using a rope made of linens.
The men allegedly kidnapped a 72-year-old unlicensed cab driver, who was sometimes held at gunpoint, before stealing a van and taking both cars — and the cab driver — hundreds of miles north into the San Francisco Bay Area, authorities said.
One of the fugitives, Bac Tien Duong, feared the cab driver would be killed and fled with him back to Southern California.
Nayeri and Jonathan Tieu were arrested in San Francisco the next day after a man recognized them, prosecutors said. Duong was convicted of fleeing and kidnapping in 2021, prosecutors said, while Tieu was still awaiting trial.
At the time of his escape, Nayeri was awaiting trial on charges that he and two of his friends kidnapped, tortured and mutilated the owner of a marijuana dispensary, falsely believing he buried $1 million in the Mojave Desert.
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The victim was beaten with a rubber tube, shocked with a taser and burned with a blowtorch before his penis was cut off, prosecutors said.
Nayeri fled the US to Iran. However, he was later caught in the Czech Republic and extradited to the United States.
In 2020, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The other two co-defendants were also convicted.
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