Orange County Inmate Convicted In Daring Jail Escape

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — One of three men accused of carrying out an elaborate escape from a Southern California jail has been convicted of the jailbreak and of kidnapping a taxi driver while on the run, authorities announced Thursday.

Bac Tien Duong, 48, was found guilty Wednesday of felony escape and on Thursday of kidnapping. A jury acquitted him of kidnapping for robbery and failed to reach a verdict on a felony car theft charge.

Duong, who' is the first of the three to face trial, could face up to eight years and eight months in prison when he is sentenced next month.

Duong and two other men escaped from the Orange County Men's Central Jail Complex on Jan. 22, 2016, by using smuggled tools to cut through a metal grate in their maximum-security dorm cell, then climbed through plumbing shafts within the walls to reach the roof, where they rappelled down five stories using a rope made of bed linens, according to authorities and a cellphone video shot by one of the men.

That day, Duong allegedly called an unlicensed taxi driver who had advertised in Vietnamese-language publications. The 72-year-old driver was kidnapped and sometimes held at gunpoint as he drove the men around. The men then stole a van and took both vehicles and taxi driver Long Ma along as they drove hundreds of miles north to the San Francisco Bay Area, authorities said.

The men and Ma stayed in motels until on Jan. 29, when Duong took an opportunity to drive with Ma alone back to Southern California, telling Ma that another escapee had intended to kill the driver, according to an account Ma gave the Orange County Register in 2016.

The other two men, Hossein Nayeri and Jonathan Tieu, were arrested the next day in San Francisco, ending a weeklong manhunt.

At the time of the escape, Duong was a reputed street gang member facing charges of attempted murder that included firing a gun at an inhabited dwelling. He still faces trial in that case.

Tieu, another reputed gang member, was facing retrial on charges of murder and attempted murder for a 2011 shooting outside an Orange County pool hall.

Nayeri was sentenced last fall to life in prison without possibility of parole for kidnapping and torturing a marijuana dispensary owner in 2012.