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Inmate Who Escaped, Hid In Port-A-Potty Dies In Custody

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Cesar Sanchez (IDOC/Will County Sheriff's Dept.)

Cesar Sanchez (IDOC/Will County Sheriff’s Dept.)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A man who made headlines in December for briefly escaping authorities has now died in federal custody.

Juan Sanchez, also known as Cesar Sanchez, died at the Metropolitan Correctional Center downtown early Wednesday. He was officially pronounced dead at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center at 12:08 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

Sanchez, 39, and Carlos Ochoa, 48, were charged in December with conspiracy to commit interstate robbery, robbery and using a firearm during a crime of violence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Sanchez was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The men were arrested in November 2010 and charged in a separate Cook County Criminal Court case.

Before his arrest, police spotted Sanchez driving a car at 3160 S. Ashland Ave. on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 2010, but he allegedly tried to run them over when they tried to arrest him. Sanchez exchanged gunfire with police and fled, police said.

After a chase, Sanchez allegedly pointed a gun at officers, who fired back and struck him. He was treated at an area hospital and arrested.

Sanchez, of the 4500 block of South Paulina Street, and Ochoa, of the 7700 block of South Spaulding Avenue, were both ordered held without bond on the state charges.

According to the federal indictment, Sanchez and Ochoa conspired to and committed armed robberies at groceries, cell phone stores and at least one flower shop in Chicago and Aurora. They recently pleaded not guilty to the federal charges, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Juan Sanchez, then going under the alias of Cesar Sanchez, made headlines again recently when he escaped from a moving Illinois Department of Corrections transport van near southwest suburban Lockport on Dec. 2.

He was being held at the Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill on burglary and drug charges, and was being taken to a court appearance in Bridgeview when he escaped.

He was found about six hours later, still in handcuffs, hiding in a port-a-potty, , on a property filled with 300 of them, near the Waste Management site in Rockdale, near Joliet. Sanchez was found by a combination of police dogs on the ground and infrared technology on a helicopter flying overhead, Illinois State Police said.

Sanchez had been hiding under the portable toilet’s lid, Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas told reporters.

“He was in the doo-doo,” Kaupas said last month.

An autopsy on Sanchez was scheduled for Thursday, the medical examiner’s office said.

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