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Inmates tell of early plan to break out

Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Chicago Tribune
by Carlos Sadovi

Two Cook County Jail inmates told prosecutors three days after a Feb. 11 escape that they had planned the jail break for months, and one said a guard charged in the scheme sometimes came to work drunk, statements filed Monday show.

Tyrone Everhart, one of six inmates charged in the escape, and Anthony Trevino, who was not charged in the escape, said the inmates waited until former Cook County sheriff's Officer Darin Gater was on duty to try to flee.

"Anthony [Trevino] states that the inmates always said they were going to escape when Gator[sic] or [another guard] was working ... Anthony states that sometimes Gater would come to work drunk and forget that he let people out of their cells," according to a Feb. 14 statement Trevino gave to prosecutors.

Gater appeared Monday before Criminal Court Judge Henry Simmons and pleaded not guilty to several charges, including official misconduct, escape and aggravated battery. Gater resigned from the sheriff's office on Feb. 16, the day he was charged.

Andre Grant, Gater's lawyer said investigators coerced a statement Gater gave to investigators implicating himself.

"He is not guilty ... he was in fact coerced," Grant said. "Darin Gater had absolutely no involvement in this case and ... they [the inmates] have been planning this for months and that's scary. I don't believe any guard was involved."

The statements of Trevino and Everhart filed in court Monday detail how the inmates tried to get a car, which never arrived, to wait for them when they walked out of the jail and how they set a fire to mattresses as a diversion.

Both statements, Trevino's nine pages and Everhart's eight pages, show inmates had homemade knives and metal poles in their cells and how they planned to use them against guards. They also said they had powdered soap, which they allegedly used to blind Gater as they escaped. Trevino said the men were supposed to escape to California and from there one would flee to Mexico.

The inmates had considered using ropes to scale the jail walls and they also considered overpowering guards as they were taken to court hearings, the statements said.

Along with Everhart, 28, of Markham, five Chicagoans--Francisco Romero, 23, Arnold Joyner, 43, Michael McIntosh, 30, Eric Bernard, 22, and David Earnest, 38, were charged with jail break, among other charges.

Patrell Doss, 25, of Chicago, initiated the jail break but did not escape, both statements allege. Gater allowed Doss to take a shower, which turned out to be a way to get Gater alone. After calling Gater to bring him back to his cell, he allegedly threw soap on him and overpowered him.

Doss handcuffed him to the shower, according to Everhart's statement, and released the others. When they showed up, they unshackled Gater. Joyner held a homemade knife and Gater took off his sheriff's uniform, which Doss put on. Doss, however, never made it out and was charged with attempted escape.

"Gater said `don't leave me naked' and they kept his black shirt on him," Trevino told prosecutors.

Neither statement explicitly said Gater was involved in the escape. Trevino denied any involvement in the escape and said he saw Gater take off his clothes and give them to Doss. Trevino said he locked himself in his cell fearing for his life.

In the statement, Trevino said he believed Gater might have been involved with the escape. He said Gater did not have handcuffs on when he saw him and was not fighting or yelling.

But Grant denied his client was involved.

"Gater had a shank to his throat," he said.

Grant said other recent escapes and an incident where a gun was fired inside the jail show guards don't have to be involved.

"This is a health risk for us and for the guards, and something has to be done about it," Grant said.

In an unusual move, bond was doubled Monday for Romero's brother, Jose, who is charged in connection with his brother's escape.

Jose Romero appeared Monday before Simmons and pleaded not guilty to four counts of aiding and escape charges.

Francisco Romero's girlfriend, Michelle Reyes, and his sister, Ana, also appeared and pleaded not guilty to charges involving the escape. The three are charged with aiding the escape after they picked up several of the inmates and drove them to a Cicero home where several were found.

Jose Romero's lawyer asked that his $250,000 bail be reduced. Instead, Simmons doubled it to a $500,000 cash bond, requiring the full amount be paid. Simmons said the fact that Jose Romero's brother had been convicted of murder merited the increase. Last week Francisco Romero was sentenced to 65 years for murder.



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