CHICAGO (AP) - A defense attorney for a convicted bank robber captured days after he escaped from a high-rise jail in downtown Chicago says his client has been falsely portrayed as menacing and violent.
Attorney Beau Brindley spoke after Joseph "Jose" Banks' initial hearing in a U.S. court in Chicago on Friday. Banks faces charges of escape from a federal lockup.
Brindley told reporters after the 10-minute hearing that Banks is "soft-spoken" and "mild-mannered." He says reports Banks threatened a federal judge as his bank robbery trial ended last week with his conviction were inaccurate and "sensationalized."
Brindley says when Banks told the judge she'd be "hearing from" him, Banks merely meant he'd soon be filing post-trial motions.
A cellmate who escaped with Banks on Tuesday, Kenneth Conley, remains at large.
Copyright © 2012 Associated Press
Story by 89 WLS reporter Bill Cameron
At federal court nearly 2 dozen FBI agents, U.S. Marshalls and court security officers stood guard as Banks sauntered into the courtroom.
Banks was all 'yes, sir' and 'no, sir' as he stood before the judge in arm and ankle chains and an orange jump suit.
Needless to say, he did not get bond to go free, but Banks asked for a preliminary hearing on his jailbreak charge and he'll get one January third.
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CHICAGO (AP) - One of two convicted bank robbers who made a daring escape from a high-rise downtown Chicago federal jail has appeared in court.
A federal judge told Joseph "Jose" Banks on Friday morning during a brief hearing that he is charged with escape. Banks responded that he understood. Banks was captured Thursday night in Chicago.
The other man who escaped early Tuesday, Kenneth Conley, remains at large. Banks shuffled into court, shackled at his arms and legs and surrounded by marshals.
Escape carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and $250,000 fine. Banks already has been convicted in federal court of four counts of bank robbery, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Copyright © 2012 Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) - A bank robber who broke out of a high-rise Chicago jail by scaling down a makeshift rope is making his first court appearance since his capture.
Joseph "Jose" Banks will appear Friday in a federal courtroom just two blocks from the Metropolitan Correctional Center where he and a cellmate escaped earlier this week.
The FBI says authorities arrested Banks at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday. The cellmate, Kenneth Conley, is still on the lam.
Banks often made a spectacle in court during his trial that ended last week with his conviction on multiple bank robbery charges. He acted as his own attorney and once had to be restrained because he threatened to walk out of the room.
He has argued that the government has no authority over him.
Copyright © 2012 Associated Press
Joseph “Jose” Banks, one of two convicted bank robbers who escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center this week, was caught late Thursday night, a law enforcement confirmed early Friday. His cellmate, Kenneth Conley, was still at large early Friday.
The FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force and Chicago Police officers captured Banks about 11:30 p.m. in the 2300 block of North Bosworth, according to a statement from the FBI. Banks was not armed, a source said.
View Two inmates escape from federal jail in Loop in a larger map
Law enforcement officials continue to search for Conley.
Earlier Thursday, a union official said a staffing shortage in the federal jail in downtown Chicago contributed to a series of security snafus that made this week’s daring escape possible.
Banks and Conley crawled out of a hole in the wall of their 17th-floor cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center and slid down a rope made of bed sheets early Tuesday, authorities say.
The breakout was caught on surveillence video, but a guard assigned to monitor the cameras didn’t see it because he was counting prisoners on another floor, the official said.
FBI agents later recovered a private surveillance video of Banks and Conley jumping into a cab near the jail at about 2:40 a.m. Tuesday. But jail officers didn’t notice they had escaped until 7 a.m. that morning.
The escapees stopped briefly at Conley mother’s house in Tinley Park before they vanished, authorities said.
An official with the Council of Prison Locals 33, which represents the guards in the jail, spoke to the Chicago Sun-Times about the escape on the condition that his name not be used.
The union official said two officers were assigned to a control room where the closed-circuit TV monitors for the jail’s security cameras are located.
But one of them was preoccupied answering phone calls from other officers providing the results of their prisoner counts. Because of a staffing shortage, the other officer was on the 17th floor doing a count — instead of monitoring the cameras, the official said.
“The timing was just perfect,” official said. “Does it make sense? Absolutely not. It’s a breach of security.”
Several years ago, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons cut back on the staffing of correctional facilities across the country, including the MCC, the union official said.
Because of the cuts, the MCC no longer assigns an officer to a car to patrol the jail’s perimeter — which includes Clark, Federal, Van Buren and Congress, the official said. The mobile officer was supposed to look for signs of escape on the building’s exterior.
The jail also used to have an officer walking a foot patrol outside the jail 24 hours a day on three shifts. Now only one officer is assigned to a foot patrol from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., the union official said.
But that officer is primarily responsible for watching for people at the front entrance, at the vehicle entrance for transporting prisoners to the jail and in the employee parking lot, the union official said.
“Their primary responsibility is not looking at the outside of the building,” he said.
The official said the staffing shortage limits the number of “shakedowns” of prisoners’ cells, too. The searches are important in finding contraband that inmates hide in their cells.
The official said he knows of at least two other ropes made of bed sheets that have been recovered in the MCC.
As for whether he thinks anyone working for the jail helped Banks and Conley escape, the official said he was told that the FBI’s investigation found no initial evidence of an “inside job.”
“Let the investigation fall where it may,” said the union official. “The bottom line is to basically make sure this doesn’t happen again. The objective of the union and management should be safety. We need more staff to be safe.”
Responding to a request for comment on the union official’s view, Ed Ross, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons wrote in an email: “At this time it would be premature to speculate regarding any of these matters as the entire incident is still under investigation.”
--Sun-Times, Sun-Times Media Wire© Copyright 2012 Sun-Times Media, LLC