Escapee gets extra month in prison

October 27, 1994|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,Sun Staff Writer

Maryland prison officials have punished a long-sought escapee who was captured after forging a new life in Georgia, by adding a month to the time he could serve.

Anthony D. Francis, who lived an apparently lawful life for eight years under the alias Gordon Peal, selling furniture and fathering a son, still may face an escape charge. That could double the 10 years remaining on his original 20-year sentence for a 1976 armed robbery.

In an administrative hearing at the Maryland House of Correction Tuesday, officials took away 30 days of "good time" Francis had accumulated before he walked away from the Poplar Hill Pre-Release Unit Aug. 10, 1986, said his attorney, Patricia S. Hall.

In a phone call to Ms. Hall, Francis said the short, pointed proceeding left little time to delve into the fugitive's new life in Georgia.

"They just basically asked him why he left," Ms. Hall said. "He said he thought his life was in danger. They said there are guards to protect you and he said he didn't feel they could."

Francis was arrested in Lawrenceville, Ga., last month after an ex-girlfriend, angry that he had sought joint custody of their 6-year-old son, revealed his identity.

In Georgia, he had held a $28,000 job as a salesman, impressing colleagues with his business prowess and devotion to his son. And he was engaged to another woman, who says she knew nothing of his past.

In an interview with The Sun a week ago, Francis said he escaped from prison because he feared being returned to the House of Correction, where he had been charged with, but not convicted of, killing another inmate years earlier.

Ms. Hall was unsure how much "good time" Francis might have left after Tuesday's action by corrections' officials.

Division of Correction officials would not comment, saying an inmate's credits are confidential under state law. They refused to allow a reporter access to the hearing.

Each month, inmates typically earn at least five days of credit against their sentences for good behavior, but Francis may have lost some time for infractions in prison.

A Division of Correction handbook for inmates shows that the 30-day sanction was the least allowable amount of "good time" that hearing officers could take away for an escape. The low penalty indicates that Francis was infraction-free for at least nine months before he escaped, according to the handbook.

Francis has the right to appeal the sanction.

Mark Nasteff, an assistant state's attorney for Wicomico County, where the escape occurred, said his office had not yet taken action to prosecute Francis for the walkaway.

Ms. Hall said she also plans to apply to Gov. William Donald Schaefer for a commutation of Francis' sentence.

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