Guard Helped 6 Inmates Escape

A pedestrian walks past an entrance to the Cook County Jail Sunday, Feb. 12, 2006, in Chicago. Six inmates took advantage of short staffing at the jail and escaped around midnight Sunday after throwing hot water on the only guard on duty in the shower area of a special housing unit for inmates with disciplinary problems. According to authorities, three of the men have been captured by police with the other three still at large. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP
The Chicago Police Department said Tuesday its officers received a tip about an escape planned from the Cook County Jail hours before six inmates bolted this weekend, and police gave the information to county authorities.

Meanwhile, a jail guard has told investigators he aided in the escape to influence the upcoming sheriff's election by embarrassing Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The guard originally said he was overpowered by an inmate but has since changed his story, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. The alleged admission was first reported by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.

Richard Remus, who is running for the Democratic nomination for sheriff, said he doubts reports that the guard was trying to help his campaign.

"An officer is going to sacrifice his life or family for political gain for somebody else? It's beyond my understanding of human nature - I can't see it," Remus said. "This sounds like Cook County politics at its finest."

Remus - who is running against Tom Dart, Sheahan's chief of staff, and another candidate - said the guard has not worked on his campaign and is not a friend. Remus was once his supervisor at the jail.

Authorities caught the last of the inmates Monday.

Spokespeople for the sheriff's office - which controls the jail - did not return calls for comment Tuesday.

No charges had been filed in the jailbreak as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Cook County state's attorney's office.

Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said police gave the information about the escape to Cook County authorities around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. The six inmates broke out of the jail around midnight.

The tip developed when police arrived at a hospital Saturday afternoon where a battery report had been filed regarding an incident earlier in the day, Bond said.

Someone involved in that case indicated to police he or she "had knowledge... of what was going to occur," later at the jail, she said.

At the time, the officers did not know whether the information was legitimate, but followed proper procedure for reporting it, Bond said.