Cab driver Long Ma claims he was discriminated by the Board of Supervisors. 

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A cab driver who was kidnapped by three jail escapees says he plans to sue the County of Orange after he was denied part of the reward offered for the inmates’ return.

Long Ma claims that he was denied part of the $150,000 reward, in part because of discrimination against Vietnamese-Americans. Ma’s attorney Hoang Tu has already filed a $2 million claim against the county. Tu claims that Ma played a signifiant role in bringing back one of the escaped inmates to justice.

Ma, a 71-year-old independent taxi driver from Garden Grove, received a call around 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 22, when he picked up Jonathan Tieu, Hossein Nayeri and Bac Duong, three escaped inmates from the Orange County Jail.

At the time, Ma did not know that the three had escaped from the county jail and found himself held at gunpoint for seven days, driving the men from Southern California to San Jose. According to previous interviews with the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times, Ma said the men threatened him and argued among themselves over whether to kill him.

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While in San Jose, Ma and Duong decided to break from the other two escaped inmates, Tieu and Nayeri. Ma drove Duong back to Santa Ana, where Duong turned himself in. According to an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Ma has kept in touch with Duong in jail, going as far as depositing money into his jailhouse spending account and sending him Buddhist prayer books.

As a part of the efforts to find the escapees, the Orange County Board of Supervisors, the U.S. Marshals and the FBI pooled together $150,000 to rewards anyone who provided information leading to the arrest of the jail escapees.

In March, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to divide the $150,000 reward money among four people: two employees at a Target in Rosemead who called police after spotting the inmates, a man who gave police details about his van that was stolen by the inmates and a homeless man who spotted two of the inmates with that van in San Francisco. Ma did not receive a cut of the $150,000.

The board has said the county does not have the legal authority to give money to Ma because legal code states a government agency is not liable for injuries caused by an escaped prisoner. The lawsuit also aims to challenge that code.

County officials have declined to comment on the litigation. Tu said he plans to file the lawsuit by the end of this week.

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Originally posted 2016-04-04 14:07:21.

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