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7 prisoners may have used phony court papers in escape attempts; $20K reward offered for information

Posted Oct 22, 2013 2:05 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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As an investigation continues into how two convicted Florida murderers were able to obtain forged court documents that—briefly—won their early release from prison, authorities say at least seven individuals are suspected of attempting to escape from state prisons in this manner since 2009.

Five of the seven spent time in the same prison, the Franklin Correctional Institution, from which Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker were released in recent weeks before being captured over the weekend, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

A third inmate, Nydeed Nashaddai, who was facing a check-cashing case, was released in 2009, when forged paperwork dismissed the charges against him, but was soon captured. A fourth, Jeffery Forbes, who was convicted of shooting and paralyzing a police officer, was foiled when a homicide detective in the case noticed his release date had been changed and alerted the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office in February, as another Orlando Sentinel article details.

Commissioner Gerald Bailey of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said at a Tuesday press conference that the investigation of how Jenkins and Walker were able to get forged court documents to order their release, as well as the scope of the overall scheme, is a top FDLE priority. Although the two have "lawyered up" and are not now cooperating, authorities will get the answers they need sooner or later, Bailey said. The FDLE is offering a $10,000 reward for information, and state Attorney General Pam Bondi's office is offering an additional $10,000.

A copy of a motion and court order imposing a reduction of the "illegal" sentence for Jenkins and Walker were reportedly routinely routed by the Orange County Clerk of Courts office to the state Department of Corrections, which then complied with the court orders. As a result of the escape by Jenkins and Walker, a new policy now requires the corrections department to check directly with the judge who signed the order to ensure it is legitimate.

Bailey said the clerk of courts office is a "significant focus of the investigation."

Officials said Tuesday that two more inmates, in addition to Jenkins and Walker, had been poised to use fake court paperwork to win their release from the Franklin Correctional Institute, NBC News reports.

Tech experts are looking at a cellphone and iPad found at the motel where Jenkins and Walker were captured, Bailey said, as well as computers and a printer from the inmate library at the prison from which they escaped, the Sentinel reports.

NBC News says DNA tests are being conducted on forged court paperwork and inmate canteen accounts are being examined for clues about possible funding.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: "Captured: 2 murderers released from jail on phony court orders; probe now focused on who helped them"

Associated Press: "6 Florida inmates used forged papers in escape attempts"

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