Jailbreak Accomplice Is Sentenced

Times Staff Writer

A woman who tried to help an accused murderer escape from the high-rise federal detention center in downtown Los Angeles in return for $1 million was sentenced Friday to 16 months in prison.

Sabrina Cher Tynan sobbed intermittently as she pleaded for leniency, telling U.S. District Judge Nora Manella that she had succumbed to a “lapse of judgment that I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life.”

Tynan, 30, admitted smuggling a bolt cutter, hacksaw, pliers, screwdrivers, tinsnips, electrical tape, two cell phones, a video camera and some marijuana via a rope to inmate Iouri Mikhel, who is awaiting trial in the abduction-murders of five Southern California businesspeople.


The escape plot was foiled last March when guards discovered the tools in Mikhel’s cell, as well as a concealed hole being carved through a wall to a stairwell off limits to inmates.

Tynan, a former resident of Aliso Viejo, pleaded guilty to conspiring to help Mikhel escape from the 10-story detention center fronting Alameda Street in the downtown Civic Center.

Also pleading guilty were Tynan’s husband, Thomas Tynan, who once shared a cell with Mikhel, and her brother-in-law, Michael Tynan, whom she recruited from Chicago to help in the plot.

Authorities said that Mikhel lowered a rope through a window in his fifth-floor cell and hauled up the contraband on two occasions, once in a pillowcase and the other time in a duffel bag.

In papers filed with the court, Sabrina Tynan’s lawyer, Ivan L. Klein, contended that his client was a reluctant participant in the plot. He urged Manella to sentence her to four months in prison and four months in a halfway house, as recommended by the federal probation office.

However, Assistant U.S. Atty. David P. Vaughn urged the judge to sentence Tynan to at least 15 months behind bars. In addition to purchasing the tools that eventually were smuggled up to Mikhel, Vaughn noted that Tynan had scouted security measures in place outside the detention center, and had even suggested changes in the plan to Mikhel and her husband.


Manella agreed with the prosecutor, finding that Tynan had played a supervisory role in the escape plot. The judge said that she had acted not out of desperation to help a family member, but solely out of greed to share in a $1-million payoff promised by Mikhel. Between November 2002 and March 2003, Tynan received more than $25,000 from people acting on Mikhel’s behalf.

Thomas and Michael Tynan are scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Manella also berated Tynan for failing to consider the possible violent consequences of a jailbreak by Mikhel, who is accused along with four others of abducting and killing five people and dumping their bodies in a Northern California reservoir. Some were killed even after their families had paid to ransom them. Mikhel could face the death penalty if he is convicted.