NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) — A Newport Beach pot dealer who famously escaped from the Orange County Jail while awaiting trial was sentenced Friday for kidnapping and torturing a marijuana dispensary owner.
Hossein Nayeri, 41, was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole, along with another seven years to life, after Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregg Prickett rejected a motion for a new trial.
Nayeri, who has cycled through several defense attorneys since first firing the attorney who represented him at trial, was convicted of two counts of kidnapping for ransom and one count of torture in August of last year.
According to prosecutors, Nayeri and two other men broke into a Newport Beach home where a dispensary owner was renting a room on the afternoon of Oct. 2, 2012. The trio of masked assailants then kidnapped the male dispensary owner and the female homeowner.
During the abduction, the male victim was “kicked and choked to the point he defecated in his pants,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown said. The assailants then put the two victims into a van and drove 90 minutes to the desert, during which they whipped the man with a rubber hose, scorched him with a blowtorch and poured bleach on him while repeatedly demanding he reveal where he buried $1 million.
“There’s no doubt the motive in this case was money — $1 million,” Brown told jurors. “In fact, $1 million the victim didn’t have.”
The dispensary owner said he did not have that much money, but he would be willing to take them to his medical marijuana dispensary and give them about $34,000, prosecutors said.
Once in the desert, prosecutors said Nayeri and the other two assailants stopped and took the victims out of the van — again pouring bleach over the man who Brown said believed it to be gasoline. One of the men then took out a kitchen knife and slashed off the man’s penis, which was never found.
They left the knife, telling the female victim that if she could find it, she could free herself before dying. As the men drove off, the woman was able to nudge her blindfold off with her knees, find the knife and undo the zip ties binding her feet. She ran barefoot about a mile through the desert to a highway where a Kern County sheriff’s deputy saw her and helped get the man to Antelope Valley Medical Center.
Nayeri, who proclaimed his innocence from the witness stand during the trial, insisting her was being “railroaded” and setup by police and prosecutors, showed no reaction when the verdicts were read.
“Here, the focus was to convict first,” Nayeri said in his statement to the judge before sentencing. “John Wayne would have been dazzled by the wild west justice of shoot first and ask questions later, but, like I always say, ‘God bless America.'”
The dispensary owner said he still struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I never feel 100% safe,” he said.
Brown said the female victim was also severely traumatized.
“I think it goes without saying she’ll also never know a night’s peace,” she said.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said his office would continue to prosecute the escape case, despite the fact that Nayeri cannot possible get any more time in custody.
“To me, it’s quite clear we don’t know what the appellate court would do,” Spitzer said. “We don’t know what the legislature will do… We’re not going to take any risks whatsoever with Mr. Nayeri… He’s maniacal.
“I hope he never sees the light of day,” Spitzer continued. “I hope he dies in prison.”
Co-defendant Kyle Handley, 41, was previously sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Co-defendant Ryan Anthony Kevorkian, 41, is awaiting trial.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)