Florida sheriff’s office shuts down inmate’s complex escape plan involving jet and castle in France
In Indian River County, Florida, law enforcement officials foiled an inmate’s elaborate escape plan involving four associates, a plane and a castle in France.
The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that it had been tipped off that county jail inmate John Manchec, 78, was hatching a plan to escape police custody.
Manchec, who was arrested on December 18, 2014 and charged with 49 counts of possession of child pornography, posted bail five days after his arrest and fled to the Dominican Republic to avoid prosecution.
After being found, Manchec was re-arrested and extradited to the United States, where he remained held in Indian River County Jail.
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In jail, the sheriff’s office said, the suspect met Byron Harvey and Kerry Shephard. Harvey was reportedly on the payroll of Manchec’s company, Aero Shade.
Investigators learned that Manchec posted bail for Harvey so he could be freed and that he paid Shephard through another co-conspirator, Ben Bashton, who was not in jail.
Bashton and Kristen Maso De Moya, also listed as co-conspirators, are also employees of Aero Shade, according to police.
According to the sheriff’s office, Manchec planned to put his escape plan into action with a doctor’s appointment. Once he was about to get out of jail, Shepherd was going to let Harvey know.
The co-conspirators’ plan included intercepting the transport vehicle as it arrived at the medical facility, Harvey and another person assaulting corrections deputies, freeing Manchec, and fleeing to an undisclosed location.
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The team planned to use several vehicles during the escape, including a truck and a van paid for by Manchec.
The inmate’s final plan, the sheriff’s office said, was to flee to France where Manchec’s company owns a castle called Chateau De Pechrigal.
Investigators said Manchec is a multi-millionaire with dual French and American citizenship and plenty of resources. Police said he had a private plane at Fort Pierce Regional Airport in St. Lucie County, the castle and a 140-foot yacht.
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Investigators allege that he not only intended to use the assets to facilitate his escape, but also to finance it.
After more than two months of investigation, the detectives were able to stop the evacuation plan.
Now Manchec and others are accused of plotting the escape plan.
Manchec was charged with attempted escape and is being held on $250,000 bond. Harvey was charged with criminal conspiracy and unlawful use of two-way communication. His bail was set at $150,000. De Moya was charged with criminal conspiracy, and Bashton and Shephard were charged with the same, although they are being held on $50,000 bail.
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Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers said other people may be involved in the plot and the investigation is ongoing.