Crime & Justice

Reward for escaped Orange County inmates gets multiplied by 4

Authorities are searching for three inmates who escaped from Orange County Central Men's Jail Friday. All are wanted for violent crimes.
Authorities are searching for three inmates who escaped from Orange County Central Men's Jail Friday. All are wanted for violent crimes.
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The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to add $150,000 to the reward for information leading to the apprehension of three men who escaped from a Santa Ana county jail early Friday morning. That brings the reward total to $200,000.

So far, investigators have gotten some tips, but nothing that's helped them locate the missing inmates.

Orange County officials also dismissed criticism that the jail has been mismanaged — neglecting to install rooftop surveillance cameras at the jail despite recommendations by a county grand jury.

“I don’t want to sidetrack or distract the conversation,” said OC Supervisor Todd Spitzer on Tuesday.

He said the sheriff and law enforcement should first be focused on apprehending the escaped inmates.

“I would much rather have them apprehend these serious felons then tell me how that metal screen got cut in that dorm,” Spitzer said. “We will get the answers to those questions, but it’s not the time, place to insist on that.”

The three inmates are: Hossein Nayeri, 37, of Newport Beach, Jonathan Tieu, 20, of Fountain Valley, and Bac Tien Duong, 43, who is believed to be homeless, according to court documents.

Orange County prosecutors on Monday brought new charges against the three inmates. Each now faces one felony count of escape from pending felony charges.

Duong has an extensive criminal record starting with a 1995 burglary conviction in San Diego. He was convicted of burglary again in 2007, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office. Court documents show he was sentenced in 2011 to three years in state prison on a conviction for cocaine possession. He was released the following year and placed on community supervision with the Orange County Probation Department.

Duong was in and out of jail after that for violating his probation. In November, during that same period, prosecutors allege that Duong shot a man in the chest during an argument in Santa Ana. He faces attempted murder charges at an upcoming pre-trial hearing Feb. 8.

Nayeri is accused of kidnapping and torturing a marijuana dispensary business owner and his female friend, who happened to be home at the time.

According to prosecutors, in October 2012, Nayeri and an accomplice burned the dispensary owner with a blowtorch in a van as they drove to a location in the desert where they believed the victim had been burying large amounts of cash. Once in the desert, Nayeri and another defendant allegedly cut off the man’s penis, poured bleach all over him to destroy DNA evidence and dumped both victims on the side of the road.

The tied-up woman ran more than a mile in the dark and flagged down a police car for help.

Nayeri faces a pre-trial hearing on Feb. 2.

Orange County Sheriff's officials pleaded specifically to the Vietnamese community on Monday for tips on the inmates' whereabouts. They said Tieu is a documented member of a Vietnamese gang.

Tieu was facing a retrial for a March 2011 gang shooting that killed 19-year old Scottie Bui and injured another man.

After getting in an argument with rival gang members at a pool hall in Westminster, Tieu got into a car with two others, drove alongside the victims’ car and opened fire, according to the O.C. District Attorney’s office.

Bui was shot in the face multiple times. The other victim was shot in the back of the neck but survived. Tieu was arrested three days after the shooting.

Last year, a jury could not come to a unanimous verdict on Tieu’s case and a mistrial was declared. Prosecutors re-filed the case.

This story has been updated.