“King Con”- The Conman Who Simply Walked Out of Prison Four Times



Steven Jay Russell is sitting in a 6X9-foot maximum security isolation cell, where he’ll be spending 23 hours a day for the next 75 years. For one hour a day, he's let out of his cell to shower, exercise, and see occasional visitors. Even then, he’s only allowed to see them through a thick pane of glass. To make matters worse, he's strip-searched before leaving and returning to his cell. While extreme isolation of this nature is normally only used in connection with exceptionally violent or death row inmates, Russell is neither of those. He’s actually in his 60s and can’t even walk very well. So, why is he subjected to such harsh conditions? Simple: he's an escape artist. In 1992, he used civilian clothing and a walkie-talkie to impersonate a guard, allowing himself to walk right out. He was re-arrested, then released, then was re-arrested again for embezzling $800,000 from his job as a financial officer. Despite the high bail following his arrest in that case, he escaped by calling the County Records Office and pretending to be a judge, thus lowering his bail from $950,000 to $45,000. After being arrested again, he escaped by collecting green markers and dying a spare prisoner uniform green in a toilet to make it look like medical scrubs. It worked, but Russell was arrested again. In his latest escape, he faked symptoms of AIDS by several means, including using laxatives. He used a prison typewriter to create fake medical records that indicated he was HIV positive. Russell got transferred to a special nursing home to die, and eventually created fake death certificates for himself. Now, the authorities — clearly embarrassed by their bungles — aren’t taking any chances on another escape.