11/13/2000

Fugitive who fled to Italy
is returned to U.S.; car dealer's
son is charged with felony drunk driving

(NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.) -- A 31-year-old Irvine man who fled to Italy after being charged with assaulting a police officer arrived back in the United States after almost two years as a fugitive, prosecutors said.

Jeffrey Wayne Minor, the son of a prominent Newport Beach car dealer, was scheduled for arraignment Wednesday at the Harbor Justice Center, but the hearing was postponed until Monday.

On Dec. 20, 1998, Officer Kristen O'Donnell stopped Minor for driving recklessly in his red Porsche on MacArthur Boulevard in Newport Beach, police Sgt. Steve Shulman said. O'Donnell suspected Minor had been drinking, but when she asked him to take a test, he got back into his car and tried to speed away, police said.

O'Donnell jumped into the front seat of the car as he tried to flee, wrestling with him in the moving car.

When the Porsche swerved into a parked car in the crowded Fashion Island parking lot, O'Donnell was thrown from the car. She suffered some bruises but was otherwise unhurt, Shulman said.

Minor, who was scheduled to appear at a probation hearing in Riverside and at court in Orange County after the incident, went into hiding. Investigators first believed he had gone to Mexico, but Minor fled to Italy in February 1999, Shulman said.

After a year of legal wrangling, Italian authorities released him to U.S. Marshals Tuesday night.

"I'm glad they finally got him," Deputy Dist. Atty. Mark Geller said.

He already has been charged with felony driving under the influence, assault on a police officer, failure to appear in court and fleeing the country, officials said.

Before the assault, Minor had been charged with felony drunk driving in Irvine and was on probation for a drunk driving manslaughter conviction in Riverside, Geller said.

Minor is being held at the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana.

(iSyndicate; Los Angeles Times; Nov. 9, 200O)Terms and Conditions: Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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