SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A 35-year-old man extradited from the Czech Republic made his initial appearance in an Orange County courtroom Wednesday to face charges of kidnapping, torture and sexual mutilation of a marijuana dispensary owner.
Hossein Nayeri arrived in Orange County on Monday night, Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown said.
In court today, Nayeri asked that his arraignment be postponed so he could review his options for legal representation. His arraignment was rescheduled for Sept. 24, but he remains jailed without bail.
He was charged, along with 35-year-old Kyle Shirakawa Handley, 35-year-old Ryan Anthony Kevorkian and 34-year-old Naomi Josette Rhodus in the 2012 abduction of the victim and his roommate's girlfriend in Newport Beach.
Nayeri initially fled to Iran, where he has family, authorities said, and the U.S. does not have extradition agreements with that country. So investigators used a ruse to get him to the Czech Republic, which is one of the more cooperative countries for the United States to extradite fugitives, Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy said. He was arrested in Prague as he was changing flights from Iran to Spain to visit family.
The defendants mistakenly thought the victim, who is identified only as John Doe, had a large amount of cash buried in the Mojave Desert, where he was taken and tortured, Murphy said.
The victim had taken several marijuana growers, including Handley, on an all-expenses-paid weekend trip to Las Vegas in 2012. On that trip, Handley allegedly told Nayeri and Kevorkian that the dispensary was extremely wealthy and the three men began planning to kidnap him.
Those plans included surveillance on the dispensary owner's Newport Beach home four weeks before the kidnapping on Oct. 2, 2012, Murphy said.
The defendants allegedly followed the dispensary owner as he made trips to the desert – but it turned out he was discussing investment deals, not burying cash, according to Newport Beach police.
A week before the planned abduction, Nayeri committed a routine traffic violation but refused to pull over and led Newport Beach police on a high-speed chase, Murphy said. Nayeri -- who at the time was on probation for a vehicular manslaughter conviction out of Fresno, stemming from a drunken driving crash that killed his best friend -- crashed the car in the high-speed chase but still managed to slip away from police, Murphy said.
In Nayeri's car, however, police found surveillance equipment and videos which would later help investigators connect him to the abduction, Murphy said.
Handley, Nayeri and Ryan Kevorkian are accused of getting into the dispensary owner's home, tying him up, beating and torturing him. They also allegedly tied up the girlfriend of the victim's roommate and dragged them both into a van, which was taken into the desert, where the man was beaten and tortured with a blow torch, Murphy said. Both victims' names were withheld.
The dispensary owner's penis was severed and bleach was poured on him to try to destroy DNA evidence, Murphy said. The man recovered after a long hospital stay.
The victims' captors dumped them in the desert, but the woman, who escaped injury, was able to run about a mile, with her wrists still bound, to get help, Murphy said. A Kern County sheriff's deputy just ending his shift saw the woman and came to her aid, Brown said.
A witness wrote down the license plate of a vehicle parked outside the victim's home, and investigators discovered it was registered to Handley. DNA evidence allegedly links Kevorkian and Rhodus to the crime scene, Murphy said.
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