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Woman sentenced in plot to free prisoner using helicopter

Staff Reports • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:19 PM

Faith Readus, 39, of Nashville, was sentenced Friday to serve 60 months in prison, followed by three years supervised release, for her part in a plan to get and use a helicopter to break a federal prisoner out of Nashville’s Criminal Justice Center.

“This sentence, which was the maximum that could have been imposed under the applicable statutes, reflects the seriousness of the danger to the public from the nature of the escape plot as well as the violent predisposition of the inmate who Readus was trying to help escape from custody,” said acting U.S. attorney David Rivera. 

According to a statement, which Readus agreed was true, Readus attempted to help Jamal Shakir escape from federal custody while Shakir was awaiting sentencing after being convicted of multiple murders, drug trafficking, obstruction of justice and other federal offenses.

Shakir, of Los Angeles,  was convicted in May 2008 of his involvement in at least nine murders after a lengthy investigation and trial in this district. He subsequently received 24 life sentences after the jury could not unanimously agree on the death penalty.

“Jamal Shakir was convicted of multiple murders and other extremely serious offenses as part of his drug trafficking enterprise as a result of a lengthy investigation and trial in this district,” Rivera said. “Efforts to break such prisoners out of custody merit significant sentences, since both the escape effort and the danger posed by an escapee endanger the public and cause significant concerns to the murder victims’ families and to law enforcement. 

“We are gratified that the court also decided the defendant’s offenses were ‘particularly serious,’ and approved an upward departure from the sentencing guidelines based on the particular circumstances of this case.”

Rivera said the escape was to be carried out by finding a helicopter through internet advertisements, and taking it by force from the owner, according to a letter from Shakir to another co-conspirator. 

The helicopter was to be flown by others, after taking helicopter flying lessons, to the Nashville Criminal Justice Center, where guards and prisoners were to be shot to death during the escape from the rooftop recreation area of that jail.

Readus participated in these crimes by trying to locate a helicopter, which could be used in the escape efforts. Intercepted letters and telephone conversations between Shakir and others eventually led to a broader investigation, in which more than 30 criminal street gang members in the Rollin’ 90s Crips and the Rollin’ 60s Crips were convicted of offenses, including the escape attempt, armed robbery efforts, drug dealing and other firearms offenses. 

In sentencing Readus, U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell said Readus participated in “particularly serious crimes,” which involved trying to help a dangerous prisoner escape through methods, which posed a danger to the public. Although Readus did not have any previous countable criminal history, Campbell approved an agreement, which imposed a sentence of 60 months in prison. This sentence is almost twice the advisory sentencing guideline range, since the guideline range did not account for the particular dangers posed by this case. Each of the charges carried a maximum of five years imprisonment.

The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. attorneys Sunny A.M. Koshy and Lynne Ingram served as prosecutors.

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