2 Inmates Escape From High-Rise Jail in Chicago

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Banks, known as the Second-Hand Bandit because he wore used clothes during his heists, was convicted last week of robbing two banks and attempting to rob two others. Authorities say he stole almost $600,000, and most of that still is missing.

During trial, he had to be restrained because he threatened to walk out of the courtroom. He acted as his own attorney and verbally sparred with the prosecutor, at times arguing that that U.S. law didn’t apply to him because he was a sovereign citizen of a group that was above state and federal law.

After he was convicted by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, he said he would “be seeking retribution as well as damages,” the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune reported.

When the judge asked how long he needed to submit a filing, Banks replied: “No motion will be filed, but you’ll hear from me.”

Pallmeyer, a prominent federal judge who oversaw the corruption trial of now imprisoned former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, appeared to stick to her regular schedule Tuesday and there were no signs of extra security. Her office declined comment.

Conley pleaded guilty last October to robbing a Homewood Bank last year of nearly $4,000. Conley, who worked at the time at a suburban strip club, wore a coat and tie when he robbed the bank, and had a gun stuffed in his waistband.

Both men were being held in the Chicago lockup, which houses around 700 inmates awaiting trial in the Dirksen Federal Building a few blocks away. It one of the only skyscraper jails in the world, said Jennifer Lucente of Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Architect Harry Weese designed the building in the mid-1970s shortly after notorious prison riots in Attica, N.Y., and was asked to design a “more humane” lockup, Lucente said. That was one reason Weese ensured each cell had a window with no bars, she said.

The brother of Hollywood director Christopher Nolan also tried to escape in 2010. Matthew Nolan, who was being held pending an extradition request, was sentenced to 14 months in jail for plotting to escape from by hiding a rope made out of bed sheets in his cell.

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