First the Wedding, Then It’s Back to Prison for Lovers

Times Staff Writer

The bride wore a gray polyester suit, and so did the groom. The lovers were escorted to the private ceremony by U.S. marshals.

Ronald McIntosh and Dorinda Samantha Lopez, the sweethearts who made an audacious helicopter escape from the federal prison at Pleasanton last November, were married Friday at the U.S. Courthouse by a former prison chaplain they had met at Pleasanton, McIntosh’s lawyer, Judd C. Iversen, said Saturday.

“I can’t tell you any more than that,” Iversen said, keeping a promise he had made to the couple.


The honeymoon was over within an hour. U.S. District Judge Eugene Lynch, evidently not the romantic sort, proceeded to sentence twice convicted con man and helicopter pilot McIntosh, 42, to 25 years in prison.

5 Years Added to Term

Bride Lopez, 37, already serving 50 years for bank robbery, was sentenced to another five years for escaping via the helicopter that McIntosh, an Army helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, flew into the prison yard last Nov. 5.

Although their prison assignment has not been announced, the couple will not be housed in the same institution, attorneys involved in the case said. But because they are married, Lopez and McIntosh will be able to correspond from their prison cells. That will help them in their effort to have a book and movie done about themselves. In a brief telephone interview last month, Lopez said she was working on such a deal.

The strange case began last October when McIntosh, serving the final 14 months of a sentence stemming from an $18-million fraud, escaped by failing to board a bus that was to take him from Pleasanton to the Lompoc federal prison on an unescorted transfer.

Hijacks Helicopter

The following week, posing as a land developer who wanted to inspect property, he chartered a helicopter, hijacked it and swooped down to the prison exercise yard to free a waiting Lopez.

In interviews and testimony, the couple claimed that Lopez was being threatened by prison guards and that McIntosh believed that he had to “rescue” her. A jury took less than a morning to reject the story and convict her of escape. McIntosh was convicted of air piracy, using a gun to force the helicopter pilot to turn over the controls to him, and helping Lopez escape. The two were arrested 10 days after the daring breakout while shopping for engagement rings in a mall near Sacramento.