Chicago bandit captured after high-rise prison escape

CHICAGO Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:20pm EST

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - The FBI said on Friday it captured one of two bank robbers who escaped this week from a high-rise jail in downtown Chicago by rappelling to the street using a makeshift rope and hailing a cab to get away.

Joseph Jose Banks, 37, was taken into custody without incident late on Thursday night in an apartment complex on the city's north side, said FBI spokeswoman Joan Hyde.

Banks appeared subdued during his brief appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier on Friday. Banks was shackled at the hands and legs and dressed in an orange jump suit like the one he was wearing when he staged the daring escape with his cell mate early Tuesday morning.

He is charged with escape from federal custody.

Banks waived his right to a detention hearing. He will be put in solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Correctional Center from which he escaped, according to Beau Brindley, Banks' attorney.

Banks and his cell mate, Kenneth Conley, escaped from the MCC early on Tuesday morning. The pair apparently broke a window in the cell they shared, squeezed through the opening and lowered themselves nearly 20 stories to the street, authorities said.

They made their rope from bed sheets and dental floss, according to local media reports.

The FBI said that, based on videotape evidence, agents believe the pair hailed a taxi a few blocks from the jail after making their escape.

Banks was convicted of armed robbery this month, and Conley pleaded guilty to bank robbery in October. Both men were set to be sentenced early next year.

According to a federal affidavit, Banks and Conley were present during a physical head count at the jail at 10 p.m. Monday.

But jail employees arriving for work Tuesday morning saw what appeared to be a rope hanging from a window on the south side of the building. When a physical head count was conducted inside the facility, neither Banks nor Conley was present.

Conley is considered armed and dangerous, the FBI said.

Escape carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher and Mary Wisniewski; editing by Jim Marshall)

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