Thursday, November 30, 2023

After 38 Years on the Lam, a Bank Robber Turned Fugitive Was Arrested by the Ukiah Police

Kourosh Sadeghi [Mugshot from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Booking Logs]

On September 27, 1984, an Iranian national named Kourosh Sadeghi wearing military fatigues, ski goggles, and jeans walked into a San Diego area bank brandishing a pistol. He made off with $21,000. In November of that year, Sadeghi was arrested for the crime. The chain of events is unclear, but the bank robber was given parole for his crime and dropped off the radar.

For 38 years Sadeghi was a fugitive from justice until last Sunday, September 24, 2023, when a beat cop in Ukiah noticed a motorcyclist failing to maintain lanes. A run-of-the-mill traffic stop in Mendocino County proved to be Sadeghi’s undoing after living nearly four decades of life on the lam.

According to a press release from the Ukiah Police Department, Sadeghi was on the back of a white BMX X3 motorcycle driving eastbound on East Perkins Street. An officer observed him failing to maintain lanes and initiated a traffic stop.

When asked to present identification, Sadeghi handed over a 19-year-expired ID with the name “Ahmad Hojjati”. A records check for Hojjati found he was “clear of wants and warrants.” 

The officer conducted an evaluation for driving under the influence and went on to arrest the motorcyclist for DUI of alcohol. He was transported to the Mendocino County Jail.

Standard booking procedures into the county jail include a fingerprint scan which proved to be the end of Sadeghi’s 38–year run. 

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The jail’s fingerprint scan identified “Ahmad Hojjati” as Kourosh Sadeghi. Jailhouse staff realized that the man in custody was on “federal parole for bank robbery and had an active US Marshall warrant. Sadeghi had been evading federal law enforcement for more than 30 years.”

Now, on top of misdemeanor DUI charges, Kourosh faces charges of felony false identification to a police officer and will likely face further punishments due to the United States Marshall warrant.

A clipping from the Friday, September 28, 1984 edition of the Los Angeles Times

Kourosh’s exploits from 1984 were documented in two articles in the Los Angeles Times. On Friday, September 28, 1984, an article entitled “Robber Flees With $20,000”. The robber targeted the Via de la Valle branch of Great American Federal Savings Bank located in Del Mar, California. 

The robbery took place shortly before the bank actually opened when two tellers “servicing the bank’s 24-hour teller machine were confronted by [what they then described as] a Latino man in his 20s, about 5 feet, 4 inches tall.” Brandishing a firearm, the robber sporting military surplus made off with what was described as a “large sum of money”. 

He then exited, drove away from the bank in one vehicle, abandoned it at a nearby construction site, and was seen leaving that area in a brown Toyota Supra.

A clipping from the November 20, 1984 edition of the Los Angeles Times

On November 20, 1984, an article entitled “Bank Robbery Suspect Held” announced a suspect was in custody. 23-year-old Iranian national Kourosh Sadeghi was arrested by FBI agents at his home in El Cajon, California. He was taken into custody to face a federal magistrate.

The details of the subsequent judicial proceedings, incarceration, and parole are unclear. But, now, after 38 years, he is behind bars again.

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  1. Wow, that is such a crazy turn of events. The confusing part to me is that if he had not been drunk and hence fingerprinted he would likely never have been discovered. Was the name on the ID another person who looked like him? It is confusing to me that a person can give ID that has no picture and would have been OK. As I have never been in trouble with the Law I am confused as to how it works in a situation like this.

  2. Well, even though robbing a bank is a punishable offense, seems like he’s lived peacefully since then. $21,000? A paltry sum compared to what banks have been taking from customers, with banks paying no interest on people’s savings or CD’s. Must be billions or even trillions banks made, taking this money (for free!) and then loaning it out, sometimes at extortionist amounts, especially credit card interest. . Now there is some skimpy interest for bank deposits but it doesn’t even keep up with inflation. Meanwhile, banks are getting over 7% on their home loans, (and who knows what on credit card debt) driving up inflation for their, once again, ripped off customers. And that’s not even mentioning all the other corporate crimes, even worse, maybe far worse. It’s a strange world we’re living in, to quote Leon Russell.

  3. The confusing part is the reference to his being on parole. Was he on parole after having been sentenced or had he been released on personal recognizance pending trial on the underlying offense?

    • “Parole” and Probation are only ever part of post-conviction sentencing (whether there’s a trial or guilty plea with or without a plea bargaining “deal”).

      Post-arrest/Pre-trail is a bail and bond process, often with restrictions that “may” involve monitoring, but never parole or probation.

      Parole is an “early release” from prison (for good behavior and full acceptance of guilt for crime commited), not jail, program.

  4. I care that he was driving drunk and thought that was fine. Who cares about the money did he kill anyone? Drunk drivers kill more people by far than bank robberies

      • Sorry can’t find the backup for that, must be a mistake on my part. UDJ at least put “allegedly driving under the influence”. As for being a “fugitive”, he was out on parole, so he was not exactly a fugitive, just evading parole. Guess that is illegal but, judging by the way our courts treat parole violators in must be a pretty minor offense.

        • Anyone who “skips parole” is by definition a “fugitive” from the law and will have a US Marshall’s warrant approved immediately.

          There is NO Staute of Limitations.

          It is a type of “escape”.

          Parole is early release from prison, meaning the “convict” remains a ward of the state or fed gov as their debt to society remains unpaid.

  5. Its Ironic how wrong people find Mendocino County a place to show up maybe thinking this is a good place to “HIDE”…..Then find out its not the place and now its time to do their time….Something here protecting the people….

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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