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Prisoner captured after daring escape

After a daring escape from a downtown jail, one fugitive is back behind bars, but his former cellmate is still on the run. A subdued court appearance was held today for convict Joseph “Jose” Banks.

Banks was being held awaiting sentencing. He was convicted last week of two bank robberies and two attempted holdups. Add to that one count of escaping federal custody, which carries a sentence of up to five years. The hunt still on for Kenneth Conley, the other escapee.

Neighbors on the North Side were stunned overnight by word that a wanted man, on the lam for three days, had been tracked to their street.”

“I’m frightened to know this fugitive’s living next door to me,” said Wanda Brown.

“I looked at him and I’m like oh, that’s the bank robber, so I’m thinking like why would he be over here, though? That was kind of stupid, you feel me?” said Hezekiah Harper-Bey. If you got all that money, why would you be over here? You know they’re gonna come over here. You got family over here.”

The takedown happened around 11:30 p.m. on the 2300 block of north Bosworth, near Ashland and Fullerton. A man who lived at the townhouse where Banks was found was also taken in.

“I heard a big boom and then when I looked out the window, it was a whole lot of police out here, like it was some TV-type stuff,” said Raven Beck.

Just after 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, Banks and Conley broke out of the 28-story Metropolitan Correctional Center in the South Loop on a rope made of bed sheets. They left clothes under the blankets on their beds to make it appear they were sound asleep.

They made it to the street from some 15-stories up and hit the ground running.

Police raided locations in Tinley Park and New Lenox, just a step behind the fugitives.

Banks, according to law enforcement, could have as much as $500,000 stolen stashed someplace.

“My most important point that I want to get across is that this isn’t a violent and dangerous person,” said Beau Brindley, Banks’ attorney.

Banks was quiet and respectful in court on Friday, in contrast with his reputation, which his lawyer insists has been completely overblown. He describes his client, who appeared at the Dirksen Federal Building shackled at the wrists and ankles, as mild-mannered; a talented artist. He did not fight Banks’ detention, but says suggestions that he made threatening remarks during trial were simply taken out of context.

“He’s charged with serious crimes, but the indication that somehow he’s a violent person who was making threatening comments, that was something that did not happen,” said Brindley.

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