Pair Who Fled Prison in Helicopter Sent Back for Longer Sentences

Times Staff Writer

Ronald McIntosh, the prison escapee who commandeered a helicopter and freed his sweetheart from the Pleasanton federal penitentiary, was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison, and his companion, Dorinda Lopez, was sentenced to five years.

U.S. District Judge Eugene F. Lynch called the crime “very, very serious,” and seemed unmoved by Lopez’s tearful plea for mercy for McIntosh. McIntosh, a twice-convicted con man, tried to speak to the judge, but broke into tears and could not continue.

McIntosh, who faced a maximum 30 years in prison, was convicted two months ago of air piracy and of using a gun in hijacking a helicopter he had chartered, and then aiding in Lopez’s bold escape last October. Lopez’s escape conviction carried a maximum five-year term. The couple was arrested 10 days after their escape in a suburban Sacramento shopping mall where they were picking up wedding rings.


Assistant U.S. Atty. Mark Zanides scoffed at any notion that the escape was a romantic story.

Cites Weapons

“There is nothing romantic about armed assault. . . . There is nothing romantic about possessing a .357 magnum and hollow-nosed bullets,” Zanides said in asking for the 25-year sentence for McIntosh and the maximum five-year term for Lopez.

The two met while at the Federal Correctional Institution at Pleasanton. During their trial, Lopez maintained that prison guards and administrators repeatedly threatened her after she complained about prison conditions. Although he did not testify, McIntosh has said in interviews that he believed that she was in danger and thought he must “rescue” her.

“He is worthy and he is deserving of mercy and compassion,” Lopez told the judge in a lengthy statement before McIntosh’s sentencing.

Lopez, 37, was serving a 50-year term for bank robbery at the time of the escape. Under federal law, she will become eligible for parole in late 1991, though it is doubtful that she will be freed so soon, attorneys involved in the case said.

$18-Million Swindle

Lynch estimated that McIntosh, 42, will be eligible for parole in slightly more than eight years, a term that includes 14 months left on a sentence stemming from an $18-million precious metals swindle.


His attorney, Judd Iversen, had asked that Lynch give McIntosh probation, maintaining that he has post-traumatic stress syndrome from his days flying Army helicopters in Vietnam.