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Home  >  Topics  >  Investigations

February 15, 2006
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Ill. guard probed in inmate escape

The Associated Press

CHICAGO, Illinois- A Cook County Jail guard told investigators he helped six inmates escape over the weekend in an attempt to influence the election for sheriff, newspapers reported Tuesday.

The guard said he was trying to embarrass outgoing county Sheriff Michael Sheahan and his chief of staff, Tom Dart, who is running for sheriff, The Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune reported, citing unidentified law enforcement sources.

Representatives for the sheriff's office, which controls the jail, did not immediately return calls Tuesday from The Associated Press.

No charges had been filed in the jailbreak as of midday Tuesday. All six inmates have been captured.

Also Tuesday, the Police Department said its officers received a tip about an escape plot at the jail hours before the breakout.

Authorities got word that someone involved in that case "had knowledge ... of what was going to occur," police spokeswoman Monique Bond said. Officers followed proper procedure and reported the tip to sheriff's office, she said.

She would not elaborate, and the sheriff's office did not return calls.

The guard initially said he had been overpowered by the inmates at the understaffed jail. But according to the reports, he changed his story and said he was trying to boost the campaign of Richard Remus, who is seeking for the Democratic nomination for sheriff.

Remus dismissed that theory Tuesday.

"An officer is going to sacrifice his life or family for political gain for somebody else? It's beyond my understanding of human nature -- I can't see it," Remus said. "This sounds like Cook County politics at its finest."

Remus said he once was the guard's supervisor at the jail but is not the man's friend.

The jailbreak was the third at the Cook County Jail in the past 10 months. No inmates had escaped from there in the previous decade.

It was at least the second time in recent months that the question of staff complicity has been raised.

During the summer, an inmate donned a guard's uniform, walked out of jail and allegedly went on a bank-robbing spree. He later turned himself in to authorities in Ohio, saying he had escaped with the help of a guard he had bribed. The sheriff's department is investigating that claim.

Last month, a jail guard was convicted of trying to smuggle a gun into the jail in 2003.






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