A 35-year-old man extradited from the Czech Republic to face charges stemming from the kidnapping, torture and sexual mutilation of a marijuana dispensary owner is scheduled to make his initial appearance in an Orange County courtroom on Wednesday.
Hossein Nayeri, who initially fled to Iran, arrived in Orange County on Monday night, Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown said.
He is charged, along with Kyle Shirakawa Handley, 35, Ryan Anthony Kevorkian, 35, and Naomi Josette Rhodus, 34, in the 2012 abduction of the victim and his roommate’s girlfriend in Newport Beach.
Authorities do not have extradition agreements with Iran, where Nayeri has family, 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.
Nayeri was arrested in Prague as he was changing flights from Iran to Spain to visit family, Murphy said.
The defendants mistakenly thought the victim had a large amount of cash buried in the Mojave Desert, where he was taken and tortured near Victorville, Murphy alleged.
The victim had taken several marijuana growers, including Handley, on an all-expenses-paid weekend to Las Vegas in 2012, leading Handley to tell Nayeri and Kevorkian that the dispensary owner was extremely wealthy, Murphy alleged. That’s when the abduction plot was hatched, he alleged.
Four weeks before the Oct. 2, 2012, kidnapping of the victims from the dispensary owner’s Newport Beach home, the suspects put the businessman’s residence under surveillance to plan the abduction, Murphy alleged.
They followed the dispensary owner as he made trips to the desert to discuss an investment deal, not to bury cash in the desert as the defendants mistakenly believed, 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 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 discover it was registered to Handley. DNA evidence allegedly links links Kevorkian and Rhodus to the crime scene, Murphy said.
— City News Service