DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver jail inmate hustled out of the jail last month by a Denver Sheriff’s deputy said the deputy thought he was going to get paid $500,000 for engineering the escape, but ended up getting nothing.
“He wanted 250 up front and 250 at the end,” said Felix Trujillo. “He’s pretty dumb.”
The comments came in an exclusive interview with CBS4, Trujillo’s first public comments since he escaped from the Denver Detention Center April 7 and gave himself up three days later following a massive law enforcement manhunt.
Jail authorities said it was the first escape from the jail.
Trujillo said he agreed to the 90-minute interview with CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass because he wanted the public to know that the deputy facilitated the escape in the hopes of a financial windfall, not because Trujillo had threatened Deputy Matthew Andrews or his family.
In a statement two days after the escape, Denver Sheriff’s Deputy Andrews’ lawyer claimed the deputy’s actions “were compelled by threats to his life or his family’s life.”
The statement said that the day before the escape, someone had pointed a gun at Andrews and threatened his life and his families’ lives if Andrews did not assist Trujillo in getting out of jail. Andrews has not made any additional comments about the escape, which led to the Deputy being charged with a felony.
“That was the biggest mistake of my life to leave the jail,” Trujillo said during the on-camera conversation.
Trujillo had been in the Denver City Jail for nine months awaiting sentencing on a previous charge. He was housed in administrative segregation in cellblock 4-D where he says Deputy Andrews regularly worked.
The 24-year-old inmate said Andrews would complain about his financial condition and inquire about Trujillo’s finances. Trujillo said the deputy had seen his Facebook page showing him posing with expensive cars and motorcycles and was under the impression the inmate was wealthy.
Trujillo said he joked with the deputy about smuggling a cellphone into the jail.
“Then he pulled me aside and said, ‘about that cellphone thing.’”
Shortly after, Trujillo said Andrews met with some associates of Trujillo’s along Federal Blvd, who gave the deputy a cellphone and charger which Trujillo says Andrews smuggled into the jail and gave the inmate.
The inmate says Andrews wanted $1500, a washer and dryer and movie passes in exchange for the phone. Trujillo confirms the deputy received movie passes and tickets to Elitch’s in exchange for the phone, but nothing more.
For the next two weeks, Trujillo says he used the cellphone to call and text friends and family, update his Facebook page and surf the internet from his cell.
Asked how he could keep a cellphone and charger in his cell without being detected, Trujillo said, “We never got searched. Our rooms never got searched at all.”
Eventually, Trujillo said Deputy Andrews approached him suggesting an escape, “We started talking and he was serious, ‘I can get you out of here.’ I didn’t know what to think at first all the way until the day where it happened.”
Trujillo says the deputy agreed to engineer the escape in exchange for $500,000.
“He wanted 250 up front and 250 at the end,” said Trujillo, who said the deputy never got a dime for the escape.
According to Trujillo, Andrews wanted to contact Trujillo’s brother to handle logistics for the escape and the anticipated money exchange and other details. Trujillo said he gave the deputy a cellphone number purportedly belonging to his brother, but he said it was actually the number to the phone that had been smuggled into Trujillo’s cell.
Day after day, Trujillo says Deputy Andrews would text the phone thinking he was arranging the escape with Trujillo’s brother, when he was actually communicating with the inmate himself.
“Yeah, he’s pretty dumb,” said Trujillo.
He said at one point he texted Andrews images of cash that he obtained from Google images, suggesting that was the money the deputy would get when the escape was complete.
“I sent him pictures of money, big bags of money and right when I sent it to him he ran to my cell and said, ‘Your brother sent me pictures… I know it’s for real!’ I was like yeah.”
The final plan was he was going to give me a uniform and walk me down, walk right out the front door. He said it takes 60 seconds to get out of the jail.”
On April 7, Trujillo said Deputy Andrews did what he promised, delivering a sheriff’s uniform to Trujillo’s cell, including hat, pants, shoes and a jacket so Trujillo could masquerade as a deputy and walk out of the jail with Andrews.
He said Deputy Andrews noted that the jail was staffed by a dozen new deputies so another new face in a uniform would not raise alarms.
“I was nervous. My heart’s beating, boom boom boom. He tells me ‘Get dressed, put the stuff on.’ And I walk out my door and the inmates are looking at me like what the hell is going on? I’m going with the flow, you know.”
Trujillo says no other deputies were involved with or knew about the escape plan.
“We got in the elevator and walked out that door into a warehouse dock and there was a cop down there… I was freaking out.”
But Trujillo says as planned, the duo were outside the jail in a matter of seconds.
“First thing he tells me is, ‘How you like your freedom, how you like your freedom baby boy?’”
Trujillo then said the plan called for the two to drive in the deputy’s car to an apartment building in Thornton where Trujillo would be released and the money exchange would take place.
During the drive, the inmate said at one point that Andrews suggested the inmate “shoot me in my leg to make this look real.”
“And I’m like, I ain’t shooting no cop. I was like no, we don’t need to do none of that. This guy thinks he’s in a movie,” said Trujillo. “If I shoot a deputy in the leg and escape from jail they’re going to want to kill me.”
As they drove Trujillo said the deputy discussed burying the $500,000 in his father’s backyard, then returning to the jail. He also said Andrews discussed what he would say if he was caught: that he coordinated the escape under duress, after being threatened.
According to the inmate, they parked at an apartment building in Thornton which Andrews believed was Trujillo’s brother’s apartment building. In reality, said Trujillo, it was a building where Trujillo had lived years earlier. He said after they arrived, he got out of the car, walked through the building’s front door then out a back door.
“And just for an hour he kept texting, ‘Can I come up? Everyone is starting to get suspicious.’
Trujillo said the deputy sat in the car for nearly an hour and a half, constantly texting asking about getting paid and saying that neighbors were suspicious about him sitting in his car for so long.
Finally, Trujillo said, he responded, “I did text him, said ‘deals off,’ and broke the phone. That was it.”
Andrews would eventually return to the city jail where multiple sources say he confessed what he had done to a superior officer.
The deputy was arrested and charged with assisting an escape. He remains on paid administrative leave from the sheriff’s department.
Sheriff’s Department Major Frank Gale told CBS4, “The investigation is continuing and I do not have any new information related to the investigation.”
The sheriff’s department has repeatedly said that it does not believe there are security concerns at the jail.
For the next three days, Trujillo says he wandered around with no real intent or destination in mind.
“I was lost, I saw the news … couldn’t trust anyone.”
He gave himself up and is back in jail, now facing an additional escape charge.
He said he regrets what he did, but that most people in a similar situation would do what he did.
“Anybody would have taken that, in my shoes. I want to see people one more time before I go back (to prison). I just got to think twice, three times before I make any other decisions.”
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com