Huntsville Houdini

Federal prosecutors get tough with an escape artist

Jurors deliberated only a couple of hours before convicting Russell of the three charges.

Golla says Russell must still serve nearly 15 years in state prison before becoming eligible for parole. Golla believes the only reason the feds bothered to prosecute him -- for a case in which no money was actually taken -- is that Russell embarrassed the FBI with his escape from the hospital.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Len Senerote, the prosecutor, denies that accusation. He says banks are a "protected species" and that bank fraud gets special consideration for federal prosecution.

Although Russell's federal convictions carry a combined sentence of up to 55 years, Senerote predicts that Russell will receive no more than three to four years. Russell will serve that time following his parole from TDCJ -- assuming he's still there to be paroled.

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