September 22, 2011 in City

Inmate accused of Geiger escape plot

Felon called active repeat offender
By The Spokesman-Review
 

A 15-time felon considered by law enforcement to be one of the area’s most active criminals is accused of planning an escape at Geiger Corrections Center, and authorities are investigating why he was placed at the minimum-security facility.

Jeffery Edward Krell, 44, was caught with marijuana at the Spokane County Jail last month, according to court documents. But he had recently been reclassified as a lower security inmate and was placed at Geiger after his arrest on Saturday. Geiger staff then discovered 15 screws missing from a broken window in his unit, said Sgt. Dave Reagan, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

“I don’t know why” Krell ended up at Geiger, Reagan said, adding that staff at Geiger “are kind of scratching their heads, too.”

Reagan said Krell’s placement and the classification process for inmates will be reviewed, but “if somebody doesn’t pose much of a threat and we’re short on jail space, they’re likely to end up out at Geiger.”

Reagan described Geiger as “a retired military barracks that was never intended to be a jail” but has been modified to a minimum-security facility to hold overflow from the jail and to house programs like work release.

Krell and five other inmates were moved to the Spokane County Jail. Reagan said the investigation is ongoing, but deputies believe the five were either involved in the plot or knew of it and didn’t tell authorities. Reagan did not identify the other inmates.

Geiger staff say the upper glass in Krell’s window was broken out, and a deputy found a pair of pliers hidden inside a bucket in Krell’s unit. Geiger employees were joined by additional deputies from the jail, including the Crisis Response Team, and searched 80 inmates. Krell was isolated by 9:30 p.m., about 2 1/2 hours after the investigation began.

Krell is an active repeat offender, Reagan said. He was arrested Saturday on felony gun charges and has felony convictions beginning in 1988 for burglary, possession of stolen property, theft and robbery vehicle theft.

Before his arrest Saturday, Krell had been out of jail on $30,000 bond after being picked up in March and April for possessing firearms, which he’s prohibited to do as a convicted felon.

Deputies say they saw him pick up a container of marijuana in a cell at the Spokane County Jail in August, according to a probable cause affidavit, but prosecutors have not filed charges and Krell was allowed to leave jail last month while awaiting trial on the gun charges.

Reagan said he expects Krell likely will face charges for the escape plot and said he’ll continue to be housed at the jail.

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