A convicted bank robber pleaded guilty today to executing a dramatic, dead-of-night escape from a Loop federal jail last December.
Kenneth Conley, 39, entered his plea to one count of escape during a brief hearing before U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman. Conley, who is already serving a 20-year term for bank robbery, could face up to an additional five years in prison when he is sentenced in February for the jailbreak at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Dressed in an orange prison outfit, Conley answered questions from the judge in a monotone, shook hands with his attorney and gazed out at the courtroom gallery as he was led away in handcuffs.
Prosecutors said Conley and his cellmate -- convicted bank robber Joseph "Jose" Banks – sawed through the metal bars of their cell window, removed concrete to create a larger opening and slipped out of the window of their 17th-floor cell before dawn Dec. 18, scaling down the outside of the high-rise jail at 71 W. Van Buren St. using a rope fashioned from bed sheets and dental floss.
After a massive manhunt, Banks was arrested days later in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. He is awaiting sentencing.
Conley remained on the loose until Jan. 4 when he was apprehended in Palos Hills wearing a long coat and beret and using a cane in an apparent attempt to look like an old man, authorities said.
In May, U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan considered the details of the escape in sentencing Conley to the maximum 20 years in prison for the 2011 robbery of a Homewood bank, calling him a violent career criminal who "showed an utter lack of respect for the law."
Gary Ravitz, Conley’s lawyer, has said Conley’s mistakes in life were fueled by years of untreated drug and alcohol addiction.
Copyright © 2015, CT Now