Kenneth Conley, who escaped from Chicago prison, sentenced in bank robbery

May 29, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Conley, 39, is best known for his not-so-great escape in Chicago last December. He and a second prisoner broke out through a window of the federal lock-up and shimmied down some bed sheets.

New details about that notorious jailbreak emerged during Conley's sentencing in the bank robbery that landed him in prison on Wednesday in federal court.

During the 5 a.m. security check of prisoners at the Metropolitan Correction Center (MCC) in downtown Chicago on December 18, 2012, the count came up "two inmates shy." But MCC authorities did nothing about it for more than two hours, which is when the next shift of guards arrived at work and saw a rope braided from bed sheets hanging out of a 17th floor cell window.

Those details were revealed Wednesday by FBI Agent Timothy Bacha during testimony in federal court at Conley's sentencing. Even though Conley hasn't yet been convicted of the breakout, prosecutors used his escape to convince Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan that he deserved the maximum sentence of 20 years for the bank robbery that originally landed him beyond bars.

During that robbery of MB Financial in south suburban Homewood on May 13, 2011, Conley appeared balding, flashed the teller a gun and said, "I have six bullets. I can put them in your head if you don't do what I tell you."

After being convicted of the bank job, the judge said Conley's escape from the MCC showed he wasn't taking responsibility for the crime. He was arrested after 18 days on the run while hiding out in a south suburban apartment building, and threatened to choke the federal agents who arrested him, according to Wednesday's testimony.

His accomplice in the jail break, Joseph "Jose" Banks, was caught after just two days on the run.

There are still many unanswered questions concerning the escape: how were the inmates able to remove the bars from their cell window and replace them with cardboard look-alikes; how were they able to store the window bars under their bed; who provided enough bed sheets, needles and thread to sew together a lengthy getaway rope; and why didn't anyone see it being made?

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