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Felon who escaped Devils Lake jail sentenced to 16 years in prison

FARGO -- A convicted felon who escaped from two North Dakota jails in a two-year period, most recently from a Devils Lake jail with the help of a jailer last year, has been sentenced to 16 years in federal prison.

FARGO - A convicted felon who escaped from two North Dakota jails in a two-year period, most recently from a Devils Lake jail with the help of a jailer last year , has been sentenced to 16 years in federal prison.

Wesley E. Brown III, 36, was sentenced by Judge Ralph Erickson in U.S. District Court in Fargo Monday. He pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to escape from custody, obstruction of justice and escape.

When he escaped on March 13, 2015, from Lake Region Law Enforcement Center, he was awaiting sentencing for a June 2013 escape from Heart of America Correctional Center in Rugby, N.D. In May 2014, he had pleaded guilty to the earlier escape, as well as to a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon, which stemmed from an July 4, 2012, incident in Burke County, N.D., in northwestern North Dakota.

His escape from the Devils Lake jail was assisted by Rachel Marie Chepulis , who at the time was a correctional officer at the facility.

According to court documents, Brown was completing his janitorial duties on March 13, 2015, at the Devils Lake jail when, at 11:34 p.m., surveillance footage showed him changing into street clothes in an area of the prison used for work release privileges. The surveillance did not show him exiting the room.

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A dispatch officer returning 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 criminal complaint.

Prison staff noticed at 12:15 a.m. March 14, 2015, that Brown was missing, and the facility went into lockdown, according to the complaint.

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, according to Herald archives.

She also served as a lookout while Brown escaped and later picked him up near the prison to ensure a speedy departure, according to the release.

Brown and Chepulis were captured April 1 in North Bend, Ore., about 1,600 miles southwest Devils Lake. At the time, they were tracked down through the vehicle license plate number on a vehicle registered to Chapulis.

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

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