The head of a California prison was convicted of a daring escape

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A man serving a life sentence for kidnapping and fatally wounding the owner of a marijuana dispensary received an additional sentence Friday for planning a daring and elaborate escape from a Southern California prison.

Hussein Nayer, 44, was sentenced to a maximum of two years and eight months in prison for escaping from the Orange County Santa Ana Men’s Central Jail and stealing a van during the Jan. 22, 2016, escape.

Nayeri and two other men used hacksaws to cut through the half-inch metal bars in their ceiling bedroom, then climbed through the plumbing shafts inside the wall to the roof, where they rappelled five stories down. According to authorities and a cell phone video made of bed sheets by Nayeri.

According to the prosecutor’s office, these people then kidnapped a 72-year-old unlicensed tax driver at gunpoint and forced him to take them away at gunpoint.

Over the course of five days, the man drove the fugitives around, stopping at various motels on the run as they drove a car and a stolen van hundreds of miles north to San Jose, prosecutors said.

One fugitive, Bac Tien Duong, later feared the driver would be killed and fled with him 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.

The taxi driver testified at Nayeri’s trial and saved Duong’s life. Nayeri pleaded guilty last week to jailbreak and van theft but was acquitted of kidnapping.

Duong was convicted of escape and kidnapping in 2021 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Thieu is awaiting trial for fugitives, prosecutors said.

At the time of his release, Nayeri was awaiting trial after he and two friends kidnapped, tortured and injured the owner of a marijuana dispensary in 2012. The owner and a female acquaintance were kidnapped from their Newport Beach home because the robbers falsely believed he had buried $1 million in the Mojave Desert, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said he was beaten with rubber pipes, Tasered, burned with a cauldron and eventually amputated before the robbers fled. The money was never found.

Nayeri fled to Iran. But later he was arrested in the Czech Republic and extradited. In 2020, he was given two consecutive life sentences without parole for kidnapping and seven consecutive years for torture.

Nayeri’s co-defendants were also convicted.

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