Inmate who fled amid coronavirus faces new charges after turning himself in

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A prisoner who says he escaped custody over fears about contracting the coronavirus is now facing new charges after he turned himself in to authorities.

The Justice Department announced that Richard Cephas of Wilmington, Del., was arrested Monday, over two weeks after authorities say he escaped from the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Butner, N.C. He is now being charged over the escape. 

At the time of his escape, Cephas was serving a 66-month sentence for his role in a drug trafficking case in Delaware.

“We are grateful for our dedicated law enforcement officers, particularly the United States Marshals Service, who investigated Mr. Cephas’ alleged escape over the past several weeks.  They pursued this case in the face of the heightened risk presented by the pandemic in order to ensure the public’s safety – an example of the critical role that law enforcement plays in protecting us every day,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon.

Cephas told The News & Observer in an interview last week that he escaped from the federal correctional facility over fears he would contract the coronavirus after a case was reported at the North Carolina prison complex.

He told the newspaper while he was on the run that he suffers from a medical condition that could put him at heightened risk from the virus. 

“I take ownership of having to serve my time,” he said. “I signed up for a jail sentence, not a death sentence.”


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