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Fugitive On Run For Nearly 50 Years Found In Small Connecticut Town

SHERMAN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) -- A fugitive from a Georgia prison camp has been found after nearly five decades on the run in a small town in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Robert Stackowtiz, 71, told CBS2's DeMarco Morgan that he's too old and sick to return to prison.

Stackowitz, who spent 48 years on the run after escaping from a George work camp, said he will ask officials to commute the rest of his 17-year armed robbery sentence. Authorities arrested him last week.

Stackowitz was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 17 years in a Georgia prison for his part in an armed robbery 50 years ago. A mechanic by trade, he served time fixing school buses off-site.

"I worked over there for quite a while, then one day I left," he said. "It's kind of simple as that. Somebody gave me a ride to the Atlanta airport and got on a plane and flew home."

Stackowitz assumed the name Robert Gordon and settled in the tiny rural Connecticut town of Sherman where nobody knew his past.

"I got a job. Social security card, went to work, never had a problem," Stackowitz said.

For the past 48 years, Stackowitz worked at car dealerships, taught shop at a local high school and repaired boats at his home for friends and neighbors. He said he didn't think too much about getting caught.

"You know you do, but after 50 years or whatever … you don't really think about it constantly," he said.

But he made one mistake – applying for Social Security benefits which allowed authorities to track him down. Cindy Derby, Stackowitz's girlfriend of more than 20 years, was stunned.

"I said, 'What? Are you sure? Do they have the wrong person?' I never heard nothing about Georgia," Derby said.

Stackowitz said he is battling bladder cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and that extradition would be a death sentence.

"I agree with that, but the amount of time I got for what I did I think was a little unfair," he said.

Despite his health concerns, Georgia officials want him back.

"The crime that he committed was a fairly serious crime, but I think if he's truly wanting to travel the straight and narrow road, then it's best for him to come back and try to handle these charges appropriately," Robert Jones, warden for the Carroll County Correction Institution, said.

Stackowitz is hoping the judge sees it his way.

"I'm hoping the judge will be compassionate, you know what I mean?" he said. "That's the best I can hope for at this point, I think."

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