LOS ANGELES -- A Newport Beach man was convicted Friday of participating in the abduction and torture of a pot dispensary owner in October 2012.
After a monthlong trial, an Orange County Superior Court jury deliberated for four days to convict Hossein Nayeri of kidnapping and torture.
Prosecutors say Nayeri hatched a scheme to kidnap the owner of a lucrative Santa Ana pot dispensary in the mistaken belief the victim had buried $1 million in the Mojave Desert.
On the witness stand, Nayeri admitted that he believed the victim had stashed cash in the desert like "a Scrooge." Nayeri also admitted that he painstakingly monitored the man for much of 2012.
But he tried to distance himself from the abduction plot, saying the surveillance was at the behest of a co-defendant, pot dealer Kyle Handley, who was paying him $1,000 a week to make sure the dispensary owner didn't skip town over an alleged debt.
Authorities say Nayeri, Handley and a third man forced the dispensary owner and a female housemate from their home on 25th Street in Newport Beach and into the back of a van that headed into the desert at night.
The attackers burned the dispensary owner with a blowtorch, doused him with bleach and severed his penis. His housemate, dumped in the desert with him, managed to flag down a passing sheriff's deputy.
A witness spotted Handley's truck at the abduction scene, and police found Nayeri's DNA on a glove inside the truck.
While awaiting trial in this case, Nayeri made headlines in 2016 when he escaped from the Orange County Jail and was free for eight days before his recapture.
Nayeri faces the possibility of life in prison when Superior Court Judge Gregg Prickett sentences him on Oct. 11.
Nayeri is also awaiting trial on the escape charges. Six armed bailiffs were present for the reading of the verdict Friday morning, including two guarding the door.
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