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Pa. prisoner slips cuffs, runs, is recaptured

July 13, 2005|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

A Philadelphia man being held in Franklin County Prison on drug trafficking charges slipped out of handcuffs Tuesday afternoon and was caught after a brief chase near the courthouse, according to Sheriff Robert Wollyung.

Mikal Hodge, 25, was being taken into the courthouse for a preliminary hearing during the afternoon session of central court when he ran from the sheriff's van, the sheriff said. Wollyung said Hodge was handcuffed to two other prisoners, but had managed to slip his hand out of the handcuffs while he was being transported from the prison to the courthouse.

Wollyung said Hodge ran north toward King Street, but was caught by Deputies Shawn Adolini and Roby Backensto. Adolini, a part-time police officer in Greencastle, Pa., and the deputy fire chief of the Mont Alto (Pa.) Volunteer Fire Co., said he saw Hodge trying to hide under a van and ordered him at gunpoint to come out.

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"He didn't have leg irons on" when he ran away, Wollyung said. "He did when he came back."

Wollyung said three deputies were unloading nine prisoners from the van at about 1:10 p.m. when the incident occurred. When Hodge got out of the van, he pushed Deputy Karla Campbell and ran off, Wollyung said.

After Hodge was caught, he was returned to the courthouse and waived his preliminary hearing on two counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, three counts of criminal use of a communications facility and one count each of possession of a controlled substance and criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Hodge was being held on $150,000 bail prior to the incident Tuesday and also was being held on a state parole detainer on an earlier aggravated assault conviction, according to prison records.

"The Franklin County Sheriff's Office is charging him with felony attempted escape and aggravated assault," Wollyung said. He said the charges will be filed with Magisterial District Judge Gary Carter.

Because he was handcuffed to another inmate, only one of Hodge's hands was cuffed, Wollyung said. The handcuff was also double-locked, meaning it was secured so that it could not cinch down any further on a prisoner's wrist.

Wollyung said this is done to prevent injury to an inmate's wrist during transport, but Hodge was apparently able to free his hand.

"There's only been two attempts at escape from the custody of the sheriff in the 14 years I've been in office," Wollyung said. The last time was several years ago when he and Deputy Gus Alexiou, still working at age 75, caught the man after a brief chase.

A few minutes after Tuesday's escape attempt, Adolini was formally hired as a deputy by the Board of County Commissioners after having completed his probation period.

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