Years before his other well-known instances of taking flight – from criminal cases in Madera County, Orange County and, finally, from the Orange County jail itself — Hossein Nayeri fled his post as a U.S. Marine.

Nayeri, now 37, enlisted in the Marine Corps as a teenager in August 1998 but vanished from his post at Camp Pendleton not long after completing boot camp, according to military records.

Nayeri was labeled a deserter and remained missing from October 1998 to March 1999. When he was found, the Marines put him in the brig for 47 days, court-martialed him and kicked him out under a “bad conduct” discharge, said Marines spokeswoman Yvonne Carlock.
“He barely earned the title Marine,” she said.

That did not stop Nayeri from invoking his military service when he was seeking leniency in connection with the 2005 drunk-driving death of a friend in Madera County.

Nayeri was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, posted bond and disappeared,. He was captured in Seattle more than a year later and ultimately pleaded guilty to manslaughter without gross negligence, which carried a maximum of four years in prison.

In a letter to a sentencing judge in 2009, Nayeri wrote that he and some friends from his wrestling team decided to join the military after high school in Fresno.

“After careful consideration, we decided to join the Marine Corps because we wanted a challenge and the Marine Corps was perceived as the toughest and the best,” Nayeri wrote. “I even took it a step further and worked hard and qualified for Reconnaissance School.”

His military service was a theme in many other letters written on his behalf.