Entries in Jail (55)


Rocky Marquez: Nationwide Manhunt for Escaped Inmate

ABC News(DETROIT) -- A nationwide manhunt is underway for a career criminal who has twice escaped from jail by switching identities with other inmates.

Authorities did not notice Rocky Marquez, 34, was missing from a Detroit jail until five days after he walked out the front door undetected.

"Mr. Marquez does have a bit of a head start, but we have the best of the best working on this case and I'm confident Rocky will be put behind bars," said Deputy U.S. Marshal Frederick J. Freeman.

A fugitive apprehension team along with the U.S. Marshals and other police agencies are searching for Marquez.

According to police, on Jan. 20, Marquez switched ID wristbands with another inmate, who was about to be freed on bond. Marquez then simply walked out of the Wayne County jail.

"He's smarter than your average criminal. He's somehow getting inmates to cooperate with him to use their identities to walk out of jail," Freeman said.

This was not the first time Marquez staged a jailbreak.

According to U.S. Marshal David Gonzalez, Marquez pulled the same stunt in a Phoenix prison eight months ago when he switched wristbands with another inmate who he had befriended and who had a similar complexion and build.

"He obviously has a penchant for getting out of jail and wanting to stay out of jail, but hopefully we can put an end to that run here soon," Gonzalez said.

Marquez was arrested in Detroit after the U.S. Marshals tracked a car they believed he was using to the city.

Marquez, whose criminal record includes drug smuggling, perjury and witness tampering, was awaiting extradition to Phoenix when he escaped last week.

Officials from the Wayne County Sheriff's Office said there would be an investigation into the reasons for Marquez's escape.

"We have policies and procedures in place that should have prevented something like this from happening," the sheriff's office told ABC News.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Chicago Prison Escape: Second of Two Bank Robbers Arrested

Kevin Horan/Stone(CHICAGO) -- A convicted bank robber who escaped jail before Christmas is back in custody.  

Kenneth Conley, 38, one of two inmates who escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago on Dec. 18, was taken into custody at an apartment complex in the suburb of Palos Hills Friday evening.  The other man, Joseph "Jose" Banks, 37, was captured just two days after the escape.  

Banks and Conley were last seen Dec. 17 at 10 p.m. during a prison head count at the correctional center in downtown Chicago's Loop district.  The two borrowed a move from the film Escape From Alcatraz by stuffing their beds with clothes in the shape of bodies.

The men then broke the window of their cell at the federal prison, shimmying out a hole only inches wide, and scaled 17 stories down the side of the building, all the while holding onto a rope of sheets and towels taken from the prison.  The rope was strong enough to support the two, one weighing 165 pounds the other 185 pounds.

At 7 a.m. the next morning, as employees arrived at work, they noticed the sheets left dangling from the building and discovered that Conley and Banks were missing.

Investigators said surveillance cameras captured Banks and Conley getting into a taxi minutes after their brazen escape.  They entered the taxi at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Congress Street, just blocks away from the jail.

The men then showed up at the home of Sandy Conley, Kenneth Conley's mother, in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park, Ill., on Tuesday morning, only five hours after they escaped.

"He was in the house for two minutes," Sandy Conley told ABC News on Thursday.  "I can't tell you if he was armed.  I made him get out."

It is unclear what connection, if any, Conley might have to the Palos Hills apartment complex where he was apprehended.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Idaho Inmates Sue Booze Companies, Blame Them for Being in Jail

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Five inmates at a jail in Boise, Idaho, have filed a billion dollar lawsuit, claiming they wouldn't be behind bars if it wasn't for booze.

The Idaho Statesman reports Cory A. Baugh, Jeremy J. Brown, Keith Allen Brown, Woodrow J. Grant and Steven J. Thompson -- who all were sentenced to jail for crimes ranging from murder to selling drugs -- say manufacturers like Miller Brewing Company and Anheuser-Busch, as well as wine makers like E. and J. Gallo, should have warned them their products can be addictive.

The inmates, who don't have a lawyer, are asking for warning labels on alcohol products, and a billion dollars in damages.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Chicago Prison Escape: Footage Garners New Leads in Manhunt

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- The manhunt for two bank robbers who escaped from a downtown Chicago prison this week intensified overnight, with police chasing multiple leads as new footage shows the men getting into a taxi minutes after their brazen escape.

Investigators say surveillance cameras captured Joseph "Jose" Banks, 37, and Kenneth Conley, 38, getting into a taxi minutes after their early Tuesday escape.  They entered the taxi at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Congress Street, just blocks away from the jail.

The men then showed up five hours later at the home of Sandy Conley, Kenneth Conley's mother, in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park, Ill.

"He was in the house for two minutes," Sandy Conley said.  "I can't tell you if he was armed.  I made him get out."

Thomas Trautmann of the Chicago FBI said the clock is ticking on finding the men, whom the FBI consider "armed and dangerous."

"[As] each hour goes by, our chances get longer and longer," he said.  "However, we do have several viable leads that we are running down."

Trautmann did not specify the information.

Banks and Conley were last seen Monday at 10 p.m. during a prison head count at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago's Loop district.  The two borrowed a move from the film Escape From Alcatraz by stuffing their beds with clothes in the shape of bodies.

They men then broke the window of their cell at the federal prison, shimmying out a hole only inches wide, and scaled down the side of the building 17 stories, all the while holding onto a rope of sheets and towels taken from the prison.  The rope was strong enough to support the two, one weighing 165 pounds, the other 185 pounds.

At 7 a.m. the next morning, as employees arrived at work, they noticed the sheets left dangling from the building and discovered that Conley and Banks were missing.

While the men have had plenty of time to leave the area, there's no indication that they have, ABC 7 TV's public-safety expert Jody Weis said.

"There's a likelihood that they're going to stay here," Weis, a former Chicago police superintendent, said.  "They'll have people they can trust.  They can have people they can work with.  There are going to be people that might be able to hide them out."

Banks, nicknamed "the second-hand bandit" because of the used clothing disguises he wore in several robberies, was convicted of armed robbery last week.  His parting words to his judge, Rebecca Pallmeyer, were, "I'll be seeking retribution as well as damages ... you'll hear from me."

Conley had been in jail for several years.

Pallmeyer and others who presided over the men's cases have reportedly been offered protection.

"If they're willing to go down a sheet 17 floors, they're willing to take a chance," Weis said.  "And I think you can draw your own conclusion as to what that might mean."

The FBI and U.S. Marshals are offering a combined reward of $60,000 to find the inmates and bring them back into custody.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bank Robbers Escape Chicago Jail Using Rope Made of Sheets, Blankets

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A manhunt is underway after two bank robbers escaped from their Chicago jail cell by breaking through the window and scaling down the building with a makeshift rope of bed sheets and blankets.

Joseph "Jose" Banks and Kenneth Conley were last spotted Tuesday morning, 25 miles away in Tinley Park, Ill., at Conley's mother's home, according to ABC News affiliate WLS-TV.

An upstairs neighbor told landlord Ron Bailey that Banks and Conley showed up at the home and Conley's mother took a gun away from him before they left, WLS reported.

The FBI stormed the house but believe they missed the escapees by only a few hours.  FBI spokesperson Joan Hyde said the two bank robbers should be considered "armed and dangerous."

Banks, 37, and Conley, 38, were being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal jail, in downtown Chicago.  Police say the two men, who were cellmates, were last seen in the jail Monday at 10 p.m. during a head count.

In an FBI affidavit filed Tuesday night, authorities say sometime after the head count the two men stuffed their beds with clothes in the shape of bodies and broke the window inside their cell.  They squeezed through the window and scaled down more than 20 stories using rope made of bed sheets, towels and blankets.

To cover up their escape, Banks and Conley made fake bars to put over the five-inch wide window and placed the actual metal bars inside a mattress, according to the affidavit.

Police did not realize the men had escaped until approximately 7 a.m. Tuesday when arriving employees noticed the rope that led the men to freedom still dangling from the building.

Four elementary schools and a middle school were put on a soft lockdown and all after school activities were canceled after police got word the escapees were spotted in Tinley Park, WLS reported.

Hyde said that the trail has since gone cold, and that no one should take matters into their own hands if Banks and Conley are spotted.

Banks is a notorious bank robber known as the Second-Hand Bandit because he wore used clothes during his heists.  He was convicted last week of robbing two banks and attempting to rob two others.  Court records show that he stole less than $600,000 and more than $500,000 of it is still missing.

Banks represented himself in court, had to be restrained at one point and vowed he would seek retribution, telling the judge, "You'll hear from me," WLS reported.

Conley was scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 10 after he pleaded guilty of robbing $4,000 from a bank, according to WLS.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former US Marine Stuck in Mexican Jail, Fighting Weapons Charges

WPLG/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A former U.S. Marine who took off on a surfing adventure to Costa Rica in August is stuck in a Mexican jail just over the border from Texas, and his family is calling for his release.

Ex-Marine Jon Hammar headed south with fellow veteran Ian McDonough on what was supposed to be a few months of surfing and camping in a Winnebago in Costa Rica.  The two had recently finished a treatment program for post-traumatic stress disorder, which Hammar suffered after fighting in Fallujah, Afghanistan, according to his mother, Olivia.

"The treatment's very exhausting, it's a tough program, and he was there almost nine months," Hammer's mother said.  "(They) decided they were going to buy an R.V., fix it up, drive down to Costa Rica through Mexico, and we were very nervous about it.  We tried to discourage it, to tell him to take a plane, but they said, 'We're taking nine surfboards and need a place to stay.'"

Hammar and McDonough arrived on the border between Mexico and Texas on Aug. 15.  Hammar, however, had packed his great grandfather's shotgun, a .410 Sears and Roebuck model nearly 100 years old.  Hammar had hoped to hunt small birds with it while living in Costa Rica, Olivia said.  The pair wanted to register the gun with Mexican authorities at the crossing point.

"There were signs that said you can't take a firearm, and so Ian said scrap it, don't take it, but Johnny said, 'Let's talk to the customs agent,'" according to Olivia.  "They said, 'Technically you can (bring it across) but you'll need to register it,' and had (Johnny) fill out paperwork to present to Mexican officials."

The gun was meant for hunting, but border officials arrested the pair on federal charges of having a weapon that is reserved for military use.  McDonough was released when Hammar claimed the gun was his.

Olivia and Hammer's father, Jon Sr., hired local lawyers to defend their son in Matamoros, Mexico, where Hammar was taken to state prison.  The U.S. State Department was notified by Mexican authorities the following day, according to a department official who spoke on background.

But once Hammar was in prison, his family said they began receiving irregular phone calls from Hammar, sometimes in the middle of the night, and sometimes accompanied by other prisoners demanding money.

"Almost immediately we began receiving extortion calls from cartel members in prison with him," Olivia said.  The State Department and Hammar's lawyer, Eddie Varon Levy, would not comment on the claim about cartel members.

Olivia and Jon Sr. say that, filled with panic, they contacted the U.S. consulate in Matamoros, Mexico, which arranged to have Hammar isolated from the general prison population.  They were advised not to pay any ransom money, Olivia said.

A State Department official said, "The safety and well being of Mr. Hammar is a serious matter. ...We requested he be moved away from the general prison population, and prison authorities granted that request.  Now, he is in a separate room with constant contact with prison personnel."

Hammar's parents are hoping that Varon Levy can help extricate their son from the Mexican judicial system.  Varon Levy, speaking with ABC News from Mexico City, said that the charges Hammar was initially arrested on proved false; he was not carrying a banned weapon that was only for the military.  The actual criminal charges were brought because the barrel of his shotgun was too short.

Varon Levy said he hopes to get Hammer out of jail within the next month, as he works with prosecutors to discuss evidence, witnesses and possible lesser charges in the case.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


UNC Professor Held in Argentina on Drug Charges Wants Raise from University

University North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Paul Frampton is seen in this undated photo. (Paul Frampton)(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- A 68-year-old physics professor who has spent the past 10 months in an Argentine jail cell awaiting trial on drug charges has asked the University of North Carolina to give him a raise.

Paul Frampton, who is embroiled in litigation with the university to have his $107,000 salary reinstated while he is in prison, made his case in a letter to Provost Bruce Carney that he should also be paid twice as much.

"This is another example of his chutzpah," said Mark Williams, a UNC math professor. "Most people would think its crazy for a man in prison to ask for a raise, but if you look closely, he has a good case."

The physicist, who said he fell victim to a con artist in Argentina, wrote that he ranks 18th out of 28 professors in his department in terms of pay, despite the fact he is the department's most-cited author.

Frampton has not received a paycheck since March 1, when the university placed him on leave. Under university policy, nine-month faculty members, such as Frampton, are eligible for up to 60 calendar days of paid leave per year.

"Professor Frampton remains a valued member of the faculty, and we hope he can and will return to campus to resume his duties when his personal circumstances permit," UNC spokeswoman Karen Moon told ABC News. She declined to comment on Frampton's request for a raise, citing the ongoing litigation.

The tenured professor has been awaiting trial since his Jan. 23 arrest, when authorities at the airport in Buenos Aires found 2 kilograms of cocaine in the lining of his luggage.

Frampton claims he fell into a "honey trap," and had been visiting the country to meet up with a bikini model he met online. Instead, the professor came into contact with a man acting as an intermediary, who asked him to carry the model's empty suitcase.

Supporters, such as Williams, who has known Frampton for 27 years, said they believe the professor was duped.

"He has been known to show terrible judgment in many situations," Williams said. "He's excessively naive and possibly pathologically naive for a person his age."

As he awaits trial in Argentina, the decorated physicist has continued his research in the overcrowded Villa Devoto prison in Buenos Aires.

During his time in prison, Frampton has remained "extremely productive," Williams said. The professor has written at least three articles, one of which has been published in a leading physics journal, and his citations have increased significantly, according to Williams.

"I think some people are going to be offended by Paul asking for a raise," Williams said. "The important thing is even if Paul had not been in prison, he would still have an extremely strong argument. His salary is a disgrace, and it needs to be corrected."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Longest Serving Female Prison Inmate Released

Arizona Department of Corrections(PERRYVILLE, Ariz.) -- For the past 49 years, Betty Smithey has woken up in a prison cell, the nation's longest serving female inmate. But today she is waking up a free woman.

Smithey, now 69, was granted parole by the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency on Monday. She was released from the Arizona State Prison Complex in Perryville, walking with a cane.

"It's wonderful driving down the road and not seeing any barbed wire," Smithey told the Arizona Republic. "I am lucky, so very lucky."

At age 20, Smithey was convicted in the 1963 New Year's Day murder of Sandy Gerberick, a 15-month-old girl she had been babysitting.

Smithey was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. According to Arizona law at the time she was sentenced, only the governor could grant her clemency.

She tried, appealing to then-governors Fyfe Symington and Janet Napolitano, but was denied until Jan Brewer, the current governor, agreed to lower her sentence to 48 years to life.

Smithey will live with her niece in Mesa, Ariz.

Smithey has battled breast cancer and "a myriad of other health issues," said her attorney, Andy Silverman

"She's absolutely not a threat to society. She's almost 70 years old now," Silverman said. "She's done a lot of reflection. Forty-nine years in prison, you think a lot about what you've been through."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


George Zimmerman Released from Jail on $1 Million Bond

File photo. (Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images)(SANFORD, Fla.) -- George Zimmerman walked out of jail on $1 million bond Friday to await his trial on charges of killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman, who is accused of second degree murder in the shooting death of the unarmed teen, used money donated by supporters to pay a portion of the bond.

Florida Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester raised Zimmerman's bond Thursday from $150,000 to $1 million after prosecutors proved that Zimmerman had misled the court about how much money he had raised from supporters and stashed in bank accounts. Lester wrote that it was reasonable to assume that since Zimmerman had more than $130,000 in cash and a second passport, he might try to flee the U.S. to avoid prosecution.

Zimmerman, 28, was charged in April with killing the unarmed teenager in February. He was quickly released on $150,000 bail, and began raising money for his legal defense fund through a website.

He was ordered to surrender himself to jail in June after the court learned of his true finances.

Zimmerman has maintained that he shot at Martin in self-defense after the teenager attacked him.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ex-Rutgers Student Dharun Ravi to Get Out of Jail Early

ABC/LOU ROCCO(NEW YORK) -- Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi is expected to be released from jail next week after serving 20 days of his 30 day sentence for spying on his roommate Tyler Clementi's intimate encounter with another man. Clementi committed suicide days later.

Judge Glenn Berman also sentenced Ravi to three years probation, ordered to complete 300 hours of community service and attend counseling programs for cyber-bullying and alternative lifestyles.

He must also pay a $10,000 assessment to the probation department in increments of $300 per month beginning Aug. 1. The money will go to groups that support victims of bias crimes. The judge recommended that Ravi, who was born in India and is here on a green card, not be deported.

Neither Ravi's family or the Clementi family could be immediately reached for comment.

Prosecutors are asking an appeals court for a longer sentence while Ravi is appealing his conviction.

"I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi," the judge told the court when Ravi was sentenced. "He had no reason to, but I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity."

Berman berated Ravi for not apologizing for his actions.

"I heard this jury say, 'guilty' 288 times -- 24 questions, 12 jurors. That's the multiplication," Berman said. "I haven't heard you apologize once."

Ravi was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest, stemming from his role in activating the webcam to peek at Clementi's date with a man in the dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010. Ravi was also convicted of encouraging others to spy during a second date, on Sept. 21, 2010, and intimidating Clementi for being gay.

On May 29, Ravi released an apology and statement to notify Berman that he would begin serving his 30-day sentecnce.

"I accept responsibility for and regret my thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish choices that I made on September 19, 2010 and September 21, 2010," he wrote. "My behavior and action, which at no time were motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice or desire to hurt, humiliate or embarrass anyone, were nonetheless the wrong choices and decisions."

When Ravi began serving his jail sentence two days later, Clementi's parents slammed Ravi's apology for spying on Clementi's gay date as "no apology at all, but a public relations piece," in a statement.

"We have respect for Judge Berman and we appreciate the manner in which he presided over the criminal trial of Mr. Ravi. Although we do not question the sincerity of his feelings, and we have never sought harsh punishment, we are troubled by the judge's failure to impose even a short jail sentence on the several charges of criminal invasion of Tyler's privacy and bias crimes."

"As to the so-called 'apology,'" they continued, "it was, of course, no apology at all, but a public relations piece produced by Mr. Ravi's advisers only after Judge Berman scolded Mr. Ravi in open court for his failure to have expressed a word of remorse or apology. A sincere apology is personal."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio