A D.C. Superior Court grand jury is investigating allegations that a D.C. Jail guard accepted a $30,000 bribe in exchange for help in carrying out an escape by four inmates from the prison last May 8.
Investigators are reportedly looking into the possibility that one of the escapees had access to large sums of money through a business operation in the Washington area.
Also, investigators say the type of tools found in the cell where the escape originated could not have been obtained within the jail, indicating the escapees were aided by someone with access to the outside.
In particular, one source said, authorities recovered hack saw blades with extra strong carbon-tipped teeth for sawing through bars on the cell window.
Investigators found about 30 hack saw blades in the cell where the escape originated, as well as a mop bucket, a mop handle and a wringer, sources said.
The grand jury has subpoenaed various records, including shift reports from the jail, tape recordings of an investigation of the escape conducted by the D.C. Department of Corrections, and an internal department report on the escape prepared by officers called in from Lorton Reformatory in suburban Virginia.
It was learned that the report concluded there were indications of "employe negligence or culpability" in connection with the escape.
One guard assigned to the cellblock at the time of the escape has since resigned, and officials have recommended that a second be dismissed because of violation of cellblock rules.
Sources indicated yesterday that the second guard had not made a proper count of inmates in their cells and that window bars had not been routinely inspected as required.
A source said tests showed it would take four men 2 1/2 hours to cut through the window bars with hacksaw blades.
"If the bars were checked as they were supposed to be checked, this couldn't have happened unless there was a sophisticated device that we're not familiar with," Corrections Department Director Delbert Jackson said yesterday.
There have been reports that a sophisticated tool may have been used during the escape. It was understood that this theory stemmed from the smooth slice that investigators found in the window bar.
Jackson said all the evidence collected from the jail was turned over to the D.C. police, who are continuing to investigate the case, along with the U.S. marshal's office and the U.S. attorney's office.
U.S. Attorney Charles F.C. Ruff would not comment on the matter yesterday.
Four inmates escaped from the jail on the evening of May 8. One was caught shortly afterward and two others captured by deputy marshals nine days later. The fourth inmate is still at large.
At the time of the escape, the inmates bent a steel plate away from the cell window on the jail's third floor, cut out a piece of plexiglass that covered the window and then sawed through one of three horizontal bars.
The four prisoners then climbed through the window, shinnied down a makeshift rope of bedsheets and climbed over an eight-foot masonry wall to the street, at Potomac Avenue and 19th Street SE.
One of the inmates, James Rufus Lee, 31, was apprehended shortly after the escape as he was walking a few blocks from the jail. Lee was awaiting trial on kidnaping, assault and burglary charges.
Two other inmates, Samuel Byrd, 26, and Larry Wallace, 24, were captured on May 17. Wallace, who had been charged with armed robbery, was located in Cheverly. Byrd was picked up in Harrisburg, Pa. He was awaiting trial for murder, robbery and assault on a police officer.
The fourth inmate, Ronald Givins, 34, of Oxon Hill, is still being sought by law enforcement authorities. Givins had been convicted of assault with intent to rape and was awaiting trial on various drug charges.