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Second captured prison escapee appears in court

Published: Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

CHICAGO – Shackled in chains and pushed in a wheelchair by U.S. marshals, a bank robber who was captured more than two weeks after fleeing a high-rise Chicago jail was brought back to federal court on Saturday to face escape charges.

Kenneth Conley, who had disguised himself as an old man with a cane and a beret, scuffled with a resident and officers who gave chase on foot and arrested him Friday outside an apartment complex in suburban Palos Hills. Back in court a day later, a largely silent Conley wore a medical brace on a badly swollen left foot, which was apparently injured during his capture.

Conley escaped from a high-rise lockup Dec. 18 along with cellmate and fellow bank robber Joseph "Jose" Banks apparently by smashing a hole in a narrow cell window and climbing down 20 stories using a rope fashioned from bed sheets. Banks was caught two days later at a home on the city's North Side.

When Conley did speak during Saturday's hearing it was just to acknowledge he understood he could face an additional five years behind bars if convicted in the escape.

"Yes, your honor," the 38-year-old former strip club worker said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

With permission from the judge, Conley's attorney, Gary Ravitz, photographed his client's injured foot to ensure Conley gets proper treatment. He was already given X-rays and seen by doctors Friday night at Palos Community Hospital.

Police officers were responding to a call about a suspicious man spotted sleeping in the basement of a condo under renovation when they confronted Conley, who was dressed like an old man, wearing a beret and glasses, and walking with a limp, said Palos Hills Deputy Chief James Boie.

He said Conley pushed one of the officers and led them on a foot chase. Conley then tried to break into an apartment to avoid being captured, but was caught and had a BB gun in his possession.

The Sun-Times reported that a resident of the apartment punched Conley in the face, knocking him over onto the grass outside where police arrested him.

Conley pleaded guilty in October to robbing a Homewood Bank in 2011 of nearly $4,000. He wore a coat and tie during the robbery and had a gun stuffed in his waistband.

He faces up to 20 years in prison on the bank robbery charges.

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Information from: Chicago Sun-Times, http://www.suntimes.com/index

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