A prison count that came up two people short was the guards’ first clue that something was amiss last month at the federal prison in Duluth. Outside, the guards found that the fugitives’ trail had already gone cold: Footprints in the snow led over a fence, through a gate and across a road.
The clues were some of the testimony given by a prison guard Wednesday in detention hearings for escapees Michael K. Krzyzaniak, 64, and Gerald Greenfield, 67, who went missing from the minimum security prison sometime before a routine 10 p.m. count of prisoners on March 30.
After hearing the testimony, U.S. Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel sent the Krzyzaniak’s case to a grand jury. Krzyzaniak, captured at a Burnsville motel Friday less than a week after he fled the prison camp, sat nearby in silence wearing an orange prisoner outfit.
His co-escapee, Greenfield, made a brief appearance in the same courtroom minutes later but seemed to enrage Judge Noel when he said he hadn’t been able to contact his attorney.
Federal defender Carolyn Durham said Greenfield wanted to hire a private attorney for the detention hearing, but had been stymied by a phone system at the Sherburne County jail. After ordering Durham to use her own office phone if necessary to contact Greenfield’s attorney, Noel said he wanted to know “what the hell is going on” with Greenfield’s phone calls.
The judge then ordered a break in the hearing to allow Greenfield to contact his attorney. Hours later, Durham reported back that Greenfield had called his Los Angeles-based lawyer but had to leave a message. Noel ordered the hearing continued until April 19.
Snowy walk to short-lived freedom
Few details about the pair’s escape were made public Wednesday beyond what the guard, Lt. Dan Gravdal, relayed about the night of the escape. Footprints in the snow showed that one person had climbed a snowbank and then jumped a fence, landing heavily in more snow below, he said. A second person pushed open a loose gate and footprints continued across a road and toward a warehouse, he said.
It wasn’t immediately clear which fence or gate that the men defeated to escape the prison, which bills itself as an unfenced detention facility. No one from the Federal Bureau of Prisons was immediately available Wednesday to explain the disparity.
Krzyzaniak and Greenfield were captured about 1 a.m. Friday at the Hampton Inn near Interstates 35W and 35E after law enforcement received a tip about their whereabouts. A hotel spokeswoman said the two had been at the hotel every day since their flight, registered under an alias, and they paid with cash.
Next time: More security
Should Krzyzaniak and Greenfield be convicted of escape, they face additional years of imprisonment, and almost certainly not in the Duluth camp or some other minimum-security facility. The Duluth camp is described in the criminal complaint filed Monday as having no “walls or fences to contain prisoners; rather, using an honor system, prisoners agree that they will not leave the camp.”
Inmates have access to recreational facilities, can make phone calls, take college courses and even “leave the confines of the institution on furlough for medical appointments,” the complaint added.
In 1988, Krzyzaniak skipped town as he faced trial in connection with a bogus scheme to sell $550,000 worth of American veteran commemorative medallions. He was arrested seven months later while walking his dog in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he was setting up another telemarketing operation.
Krzyzaniak, of Minneapolis, has nine years to serve of a 12-year-plus term for bilking investors by promoting development projects that never happened. Among them was a resort and housing development in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., that included a Phil Mickelson-designed golf course. Another was a proposed NASCAR-style racetrack in the Elko New Market area. He pleaded guilty in 2011 to wire fraud and tax evasion.
Greenfield, of Bloomington, was serving four years for assisting a mortgage scam with the developer of the Sexton Lofts in downtown Minneapolis. He helped the developer by hiding the profits with an attorney friend in Australia. He has a projected release date of Nov. 2, 2015, in that case.
Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report.