Boot camp prisoner flees Willow River facility, caught less than day later

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 26, 2014 - 12:56 PM

A convicted fraudster and longtime felon fled a minimum-security boot camp in east-central Minnesota and was caught the next day up the road a few miles.

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Richard J. O’Reilly, a boot camp prisoner at the Willow River facility in east-central Minnesota, fled the facility.

Photo: Minnesota Department of Corrections,

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A convicted fraudster and longtime felon fled a minimum-security boot camp in east-central Minnesota and was caught the next day a few miles up the road, state officials said Wednesday.

Richard J. O’Reilly, 50, walked away from the Department of Corrections’ Challenge Incarceration Program at Willow River about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, the department said.

O’Reilly, convicted of check forgery in Ramsey County and sentenced in May 2011, was apprehended less than 5 miles to the north in the Sturgeon Lake area by members of the Pine County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Corrections’ fugitive unit and the State Patrol, said corrections spokeswoman Sarah Latuseck.

O’Reilly was discovered at a home and “peacefully gave himself up at noon,” Latuseck said.

O’Reilly’s criminal history in Minnesota is lengthy and extensive. Since 1996, he’s been convicted repeatedly of check forgery, as well as for burglary, theft and a drug offense.

The Willow River program allows nonviolent offenders who qualify to earn early release. It has three phases: A six-month, intensive program for up to 180 nonviolent drug and property male offenders. Programming components include education, critical thinking skills development, chemical dependency programming, and rigorous physical exercise. Phases 2 and 3 are served in the community.

O’Reilly was in Phase 1 at the time of his escape, a corrections spokeswoman said.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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