Inmate Who Fled Prison in Dog Crate Pleads Guilty to Escape

An inmate who pleaded guilty to state charges of escaping from prison in a dog crate probably will face federal charges as well, his lawyer said.

John Manard, 28, fled Lansing Correctional Facility in February in a crate that had been loaded into a van driven by Toby Young, a married woman who ran a program in which inmates trained homeless dogs for adoption as pets.

The two were captured 12 days later in eastern Tennessee, where they were living in a rented cabin at a secluded fishing lake. Young was sentenced in July to 21 months in prison after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting aggravated escape and trafficking contraband.

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Manard, serving a life sentence for a Johnson County murder, smiled for photographers Wednesday as he entered Leavenworth County District Court to plead guilty to aggravated escape. He faces an additional 10 years in prison and will be formally sentenced Feb. 2.

Defense attorney Terry Lober said he expects Manard to face criminal charges in federal court once the state has completed its district court case.

Lober speculated that his client already may have been charged under a sealed indictment with possession of a firearm as a criminal.

"The sealed indictment is this big elephant that no one will talk about," Lober said.

Young was charged in federal court with knowingly giving a firearm to a felon and fugitive.

In exchange for Manard's guilty plea to escape, Leavenworth County Attorney Frank Kohl dropped a second charge of possession of contraband — a cell phone — inside the prison. Authorities have said Manard used the cell phone to reserve the Tennessee cabin.

Kohl said he agreed to the plea bargain to avoid dragging the case out indefinitely.

"We need to do something with this because it's ridiculous. We're wasting a lot of time and effort," Kohl said.

Manard had to be transported from the Lansing prison to the county courthouse for several brief hearings. As with any state inmate attending a hearing, state corrections officers escort Manard back and forth.

"Why keep doing that over and over and over again?" Kohl said. "It's a waste of a lot of resources."

The Safe Harbor Prison Dog Program that Young formerly ran has continued to operate at the Lansing prison.

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