Former oil executive in custody after escape from U.S. prison in Texas

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2014 1:47 PM

By Jim Forsyth

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A former oil company executive convicted of operating an investment scam that defrauded about $7 million from hundreds of investors was captured on Tuesday after escaping from a low-security federal prison in central Texas.

Jimmy Morrisett, 55, who fled the Bastrop Satellite Prison Camp on Sunday night, was tracked by U.S. marshals to a vacant home in Burnet, a town west of Austin, where he lived before being sentenced last year.

Morrisett, found hiding in the attic of the home, at first refused to surrender, according to Deputy U.S. Marshal Hector Gomez.

"He had been using this home as a hideout for about 24 hours. It was in a very wooded area, perfect to hide," Gomez said. "We brought in helicopters, a SWAT team from the Texas Department of Public Safety, and he indicated to us that he had a weapon and wasn't going to go back to prison."

After about a four-hour standoff, gas was introduced into the attic and Morrisett then surrendered, Gomez said. No weapon was found.

Documents filed in federal court said Morrisett managed a Ponzi scheme for more than two years, scamming more than 200 people, many of them retirees who lost their life savings.

He pleaded guilty in 2013 and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Gomez says Morrisett is expected to appear soon in court in Austin to face an escape charge.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott)