Pinellas-Pasco Chief Judge Thomas McGrady says forging a signature is not hard to do, but admits "it is aggravating," especially when it happened to him.
Escaped inmates Charles Walker (left) and Joseph Jenkins (right)
Clearwater, Florida -- Pinellas-Pasco Chief Judge Thomas McGrady says forging a signature is not hard to do, but admits "it is aggravating," especially when it happened to him.
"My reaction was oh no, not again," said Judge McGrady after hearing about two convicted murderers who filed phony paperwork to get out of a North Florida prison where they were both serving life sentences.
Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker, both 34, didn't scale fences or run into the woods. Guards let each of them leave through the front gate of the prison -- Jenkins on Sept. 27 and Walker on Oct. 8.
Judge Thomas McGrady has been through this before. He knows what's like to hear about bad guys busting out from behind bars with bogus documents. He went through the same thing in 2009 with a man named Nydeed Nashaddai, 44, who used a forged court order to get out from behind bars.
Judge McGrady told 10 News, "It was a surprise and aggravating to use my name to get out of jail."
Somehow the judge's signature ended up on phony papers filed by Nashaddai, a father-of-five, securing his release after Judge Thomas sentenced him to do time for stealing and cashing checks in Largo.
"In the modern world of copying, it's not that hard to lift a signature and put it on another document," said Judge McGrady.
Another well-known judge dealing with this document debacle is Casey Anthony Judge Belvin Perry in Orlando. It was his forged signature that was filed, allowing the release of the two murderers from Orange County, Walker and Jenkins, both doing life sentences in the Florida panhandle prison.
Judge Perry also admits it's not that hard to fake the paperwork.
"People with criminal minds figure out ingenious ways to do things. They have nothing but time on their hands."
That's why all courthouses in Florida will soon be paperless, Judge Thomas tells us. In the past five years, they've been revamping the system so that judge's signatures can be encrypted.
In addition, FDLE has launched a full investigation into who assisted these inmates in getting out of prison with false paperwork. The Department of Corrections says it will now change the way early releases are handled. A judge will now be contacted in addition to the clerk's office in the corresponding circuit.
The manhunt continues for the two inmates who are said to be receiving help from family and friends.