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U.S. drops charge in high-rise escape

Jan. 3, 2013 at 3:08 PM

CHICAGO, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. prosecutors Thursday dropped an escape charge against a prisoner who made a daring escape from Chicago's high-rise South Loop jail.

The Chicago Tribune said prosecutors want to use the escape as an aggravating factor to lengthen the man's sentence for bank robbery, while a separate charge of escape carries only a maximum five years in prison.

Officials said Joseph Banks, 37, a convicted bank robber, escaped Dec. 18 from the 28-story Metropolitan Correctional Center by using a rope made from bed sheets to rappel down 15 stories. He was recaptured three days later on Chicago's North Side.

Banks' cellmate, Kenneth Conley, also took part in the escape and remained at large Thursday.

The Tribune said Banks already faced as much as 80 years in prison, having been convicted a week before his escape for robbing two banks and trying to rob two others.

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