Escaped inmates booked back into Orange County jail
FDLE, Crimestoppers offer $20K reward for info on Florida inmates who escaped
The two Florida inmates who escaped from Franklin Correctional Institute last week have been booked back into Orange County Jail on Tuesday.
Authorities say Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker were let out of a Panhandle prison because of forged documents. The fake documents reduced their life sentences to 15 years.
They were captured Saturday at a Panama City motel. Their release led the Corrections Department to change its policy for early prisoner releases.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said at a news conference Tuesday it is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those who helped Jenkins and Walker escape prison with forged documents changing their release date.
Attorney General Pam Bondi partnered with Crime Stoppers of the Big Bend Executive Director Sharon Ofuani to offer up to $10,000 for information provided to FDLE, bringing it up to $20,000 in total for tips.
Authorities say at least seven inmates in Florida have used forged documents in attempts to escape from prison, including two killers who were mistakenly freed because of the paperwork.
FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said they are now trying to track how forged documents moved through the system and the operation of the Orange County clerk's office significant focus of investigation.
Bailey said the FDLE is offering up to a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those assisting the escaped killers forge release orders. Bailey said they have a number of suspects who may have assisted Jenkins and Walker.
"I will tell you we are looking very closely at any help they may have had from the outside. I'm not prepared to say, 'yes, they did have help from outside,'" Bailey said.
FDLE is analyzing the forged documents for fingerprints, DNA, connection to printers at Franklin Correctional, Bailey said.
Bailey says they found an iPad and cell phone at a Panama City motel where Jenkins and Walker were captured Saturday and they are reviewing them for evidence.
Bailey said two other Franklin Correctional Institute inmates were in the process of obtaining fraudulent documents. He said FDLE talked to the state's 20 state attorneys during the summer about at least one prior forged court release order by Jeffrey Forbes, who had tried the same thing months before Walker and Jenkins.
Newly released court records indicate several people, including the state attorney and clerk of courts, knew several months ago that an inmate had tried to escape using forged documents.
State attorney Jeff Ashton tells Local 6 "it was clear to me there was a gap in security that allowed this to happen."
According to the court records, on Feb. 21, 2013, Ashton met with Chief Judge Belivin Perry to "advise of the potential fraudulent motions."
Perry's spokeswoman says the judge was not provided any details about the attempted prison escape.
On May 28, representatives with the state attorney's office met with interim clerk of court Colleen Reilly. Reilly's spokeswoman tells Local 6 prosecutors wanted to know how court documents were filed, recorded and distributed.
Reilly was told to say nothing to her staff about the investigation and that the state attorney never followed up with the clerk.
Despite knowledge of Forbes' attempted escape months ago, Bailey said the clerk did not act carelessly.
"At the time, it had not rose to the level that this case has risen to," Bailey said.
No arrests will be made on Tuesday, Bailey said, but "definitely will be" in the future as the investigation into Jenkins and Walker's accomplices continues.
"We have pinpointed suspects and are building the case," Bailey said.
Watch Local 6 for more on this story.