Federal prison escapee arrested in Mesa - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Federal prison escapee arrested in Mesa

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Posted: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 3:15 pm | Updated: 3:39 pm, Wed Jan 5, 2011.

A 38-year-old convict who failed to meet requirements in the last month of his federal prison sentence by not returning to a halfway house was arrested early Monday during a routine traffic stop in Mesa.

Johnny A. Fajardo, who failed to return to a Behavorial Systems Southwest halfway house in Florence with only a month left on his prison sentence, was arrested about 2 a.m. Monday after driving into a bicycle lane near Main Street and Extension Road and then leading officers on a foot chase before he was caught in the 900 block of West University Drive, according to police.

The U.S. Marshal’s Service issued a warrant for Fajardo’s arrest Dec. 13 after he failed to return to the halfway house, according to David Gonzales of the Phoenix office of the marshal’s service. That morning Fajardo left the halfway house where he was being reintegrated into society near the end of a five-year federal prison sentence.

“We don’t know why they do that,” said Matt Hershey, a U.S. Marshal’s Service spokesman of Fajardo trying to abscond. “It’s definitely not uncommon. He only had a month to go, and he would’ve completed his sentence.”

In February 2006, Fajardo was arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession with intent to distribute. He had 308 pounds of marijuana in his possession and was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

For failing to return to the halfway house, Fajardo will have to return to prison, but the length of how much longer he’ll have to stay there isn’t known at this time, Gonzales said.

Fajardo, who had previous arrests for armed robbery, aggravated assault, criminal trespassing and multiple drug violations, also had served a one-year sentence in an Arizona Department of Corrections prison for marijuana possession in 1999, according to prison records.

Currently, there are 287 outstanding federal warrants for fugitives in Arizona, mostly for parole or probation violations, Hershey said.

Gonzales told the Tribune on Tuesday that some convicts or fugitives with outstanding warrants are caught right away, but “others can hide out for years.”

CONTACT WRITER: (480) 898-6533 or msakal@evtrib.com

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