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Felon who escaped from Devils Lake jail with help of jailer pleads guilty

Felon who escaped from Devils Lake jail with help of jailer pleads guilty By Becky Jacobs Forum News Service FARGO--A convicted felon who escaped a Devils Lake jail with the help of a jailer pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court. Wesley E. Bro...

Felon who escaped from Devils Lake jail with help of jailer pleads guilty

By Becky Jacobs

Forum  News Service

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FARGO--A convicted felon who escaped a Devils Lake jail with the help of a jailer pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court.

Wesley E. Brown III, 36, was charged with obstruction of justice, escape from custody and conspiracy to escape from custody. He pleaded guilty to the first two charges and the conspiracy to escape from custody charge will be dismissed at Brown's sentencing hearing, according to court documents. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Brown escaped from Lake Region Law Enforcement Center with the assistance of Rachel Marie Chepulis, 27, who was a correctional officer at the facility at the time of the escape.

On March 13, Brown was completing his janitorial duties in the jail, according to a criminal complaint. At 11:34 p.m., surveillance footage shows Brown changing into street clothes in an area of the jail used for work release privileges, but footage does not show Brown exiting the room.

A dispatch officer coming back from a break noticed a man wearing dark jeans and a light blue shirt exiting the side door of the facility at 11:41 p.m., according to the complaint.

Jail staff noticed at 12:15 a.m. March 14 that Brown was missing, and the facility went into lockdown, the complaint states.

An investigation revealed Chepulis and Brown had planned the March 13 escape from the Devils Lake jail in advance, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. Chepulis advised Brown on how to evade security measures and gave him a false ID and clothes. She also served as a lookout while Brown escaped and later picked him up near the jail to ensure a speedy departure, according to the release.

Brown and Chepulis were captured on April 1 in North Bend, Ore.

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Chepulis was sentenced on Sept. 30 to 40 months in prison and three years of supervised release for obstruction of justice and assisting an escape from custody.

Brown was in federal custody in Devils Lake waiting for sentencing after pleading guilty on May 12, 2014, to charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and escape from custody. Brown previously escaped from the Heart of America Correctional Center in Rugby, N.D., in June 2013. He was captured by U.S. Marshals 4 miles south of Rugby near Gun Lake, N.D., within a few hours following the escape.

Brown is scheduled to be sentenced March 14 in Fargo for the Devils Lake escape.

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