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Convicted Bank Robber and Prison Escapee Appears in Court

Joseph "Jose" Banks appeared in court after escaping a downtown prison on Tuesday, visiting Tinley Park and being arrested Thursday in Chicago.

After a daring prison escape from a cell 15 stories off the ground and three days on the run, Joseph “Jose” Banks, 37, appeared in federal court Friday, a day after police and federal agents surprised him at his cousin's Lincoln Park apartment and took the convicted bank robber back into custody.

Known as the Second-Hand Bandit for the duds he wore during his heists, Banks was quiet and respectful, a sharp contrast to his defiant words at trial last week, where he promised the judge "you will hear from me."

Banks faces one count of escaping federal custody with a sentence of up to five years in prison on conviction, in addition to sentencing in March for his conviction last week on two bank robberies and two attempted holdups, according to Chicago Tribune.

Shackled at the wrists and ankles during his court appearance Friday, Banks answered questions politely. Attorney Beau Brindley, who formerly represented Banks on bank robbery charges, called the escapee “mild-mannered,” and said that Banks was not violent, but was “a talented artist and clothing designer.” 

Banks stole $600,000, and authorities have yet to find half a million of his loot. 

Banks escaped with , a former floor host at a Chicago Heights strip club who remains on the loose. Conley robbed a Homewood bank of $4,000 and pleaded guilty in October. The duo brought the manhunt to Tinley Park Tuesday morning. Conley and Banks were spotted at Conley's mother's home on the 6600 block of 176th Street, but she turned him away. WLS reported that Sandy Conley even took her son's gun away from him before sending him away. The search later turned to New Lenox.

It's not known when and where they split up.

Members of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force and the Chicago Police Department captured Banks at about 11:30 p.m. on Thursday night in the 2300 block of North Bosworth Street in the Lincoln Park community on the North Side of Chicago, according to the FBI.

Banks ran into a house on Bosworth Street to escape the 20 to 30 agents and officers closing in on him, but he went with the officers peacefully once he was arrested, according to witnesses. Witnesses believe Banks stayed inside the house during the days following his escape.

Banks and Conley, cellmates, escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center early Tuesday morning by using ropes made from bed sheets to slide down the side of the South Loop prison. They made fake prison bars and placed them in the window to conceal their escape, and they plumped up their bedding to make it look like they were asleep.

It is believed that they then landed on the roof of a garage and hopped a fence. A video shows them hailing a taxi at Congress Parkway and Michigan Avenue. 

Ironically, they escaped on the watch of MCC Warden Catherine Linaweaver, who recently was named "2012 Warden of the Year," reports WLS.

On Wednesday, when both men were still on the run, the FBI offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to their capture. Conley remains on the run.

This article includes reporting by Patch editor Joe Vince.

Patch Stories About the Hunt for the Escaped Convicts:

  • FBI: Prison Escapee Caught in Chicago; Cellmate Still at Large
  • Fugitive Manhunt: FBI Posts $50K Reward for Info on Convicts
  • Landlord: Mother Turned Away Escaped Convict at Front Door
  • Scenes From a Manhunt (Photo Gallery)
  • Fugitive Search Disrupts Funeral at Nearby Church
  • Orland Park Police Investigating False Bank Robbery Report
Kimberly December 22, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Since the article doesn't mention Banks cousin being charged with harboring a criminal, I'll assume the cousin will soon be $50,000 richer!!
mike December 22, 2012 at 04:27 PM
500,000 richer he has the money saved for him
ernie December 23, 2012 at 01:23 AM
I bet they let him escape hoping he'd lead them to the cash. The guy who stole the lousy $4K is still on the lam.

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