A proposal to increase the reward for information in the search for three "very dangerous" inmates who escaped from an Orange County jail by $150,000 was approved Tuesday by county supervisors.
Todd Spitzer of the Orange County Board of Supervisors requested the board increase the reward by $150,000, bringing the total to $200,000. The motion passed unanimously at Tuesday's meeting.
"Money talks and the stakes couldn't be higher," Spitzer said. "Apparenlty, the $50,000 cumulatively is not getting the job done."
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Jonathan Tieu, 20, Bac Duong, 43, and Hossein Nayeri, 37, were awaiting trials for unrelated violent crimes when they vanished from a dormitory they shared with about 65 other men at the Orange County Men's Central Jail.
"They could be very desperate," said Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock. "We don't have any information to indicate that they are together. But time would tell you they get to a point where they become desperate, whether they need money or somebody to help facilitate their well-being on a day-to-day basis. But obviously the concern is that they are desperate.
"They are facing some very serious charges. That's why we're pleading for the public's help because we know somebody out there knows something."
The men had a nearly 16-hour head-start before authorities realized they were missing Friday. Authorities said they believe Tieu and Duong may still be in the region due to their ties to local Vietnamese-American gangs.
"We think that there's obviously ties, based on the fact that one of the individuals is a documented Vietnamese gang member," Hallock said. "We think it's a strong possibility that he may have connected with those fellow gang members in the Vietnamese community."
Around 30 warrants had been served since the escape was discovered. Those warrants were served and homes and used to search electronic devices, such as computers and phones.
The men are believed to have escaped Friday shortly after a 5 a.m. physical body count, one of two that take place each day at the jail. The disappearance wasn't discovered until about 9 p.m. Friday, during the second daily headcount, which was to have started at 8 p.m. but was delayed by an altercation possibly staged to help delay discovery of the escape, Hallock said.
Authorities were continuing to investigate whether other inmates had a hand in the escape, notably through the altercation that delayed the 8 p.m. body count.
The men cut through a steel grate, half-inch steel bars and plumbing tunnels early Friday before making their way to an unsecured part of the jail's roof and using makeshift ropes to rappel several floors to the ground.
Nayeri, of Newport Beach, was in custody on kidnapping and torture charges for the abduction of a marijuana clinic owner who Nayeri allegedly drove to the desert and burned with a blowtorch. The victim, his attackers thought he had stashed money in the desert, was also sexually mutilated, prosecutors said.
Nayeri fled the United States to Iran. 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 more cooperative with the U.S. for extraditing fugitives, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy. Nayeri was arrested in Prague while changing flights from Iran to Spain to visit family, Murphy said.
Tieu, of Fountain Valley, faces murder and attempted murder charges in connection with a gang hit, prosecutors said, and Bac Duong, of Santa Ana, faces an attempted murder charge and was being held without bail on an immigration hold pending a possible federal deportation hearing.