- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

DETROIT (AP) - Authorities say a Flint-area man convicted in a fraud scheme tried to escape from jail earlier this year after he was caught by federal agents.

Forty-seven-year-old Ronnie Duke was in federal court in Detroit on Tuesday on charges stemming from the attempted escape from the Monroe County jail.

The Detroit News reports (https://bit.ly/1zrGnDo ) Duke allegedly chipped away at mortar inside his cinder block jail cell and tried hiding progress by stuffing the hole with a mixture of wet toilet paper, toothpaste and chocolate cookies. Damage to the wall was discovered in May.

During the hearing, a judge ordered a new lawyer for Duke and ruled that Duke was competent to stand trial after reviewing results of a psychiatric exam. Duke told the court that he’s had “extreme mood swings” as well as “nervousness and depression.”

Duke fled in June 2013 after being sentenced to 13 years in prison for his role in a wide-ranging mortgage fraud. The Fenton man was arrested in Saline in February, more than eight months after failing to surrender to prison officials, and has been held since then.

After his arrest, federal officials in Detroit say Duke assaulted a prosecutor when he made an appearance in court in February. Marshals subdued Duke, and although medical personnel were called, the prosecutor opted to take herself to an area hospital.

The News reports Duke was sent to prison in 1989 for receiving stolen property and later, briefly, escaped from an Upper Peninsula prison before being freed in 1993.

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Information from: The Detroit News, https://detnews.com/


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