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Texas Prison Developer Arrested in Escape Plot

A private prison developer with business ties to a former Texas state prison director was arrested in January and charged with plotting to help a convicted murderer escape from prison for a $750,000 fee.

Patrick Harold Graham - using the alias Harold Robert also extended the offer to the convict's girlfriend. But the girlfriend went to authorities, who videotaped Graham, 45, as he allegedly accepted a $150,000 down payment in a restaurant parking lot. She handed Graham the money and told him she was making the payment with stolen funds. He was arrested after taking the money and was charged with money laundering and theft.

Graham is head of N-Group Securities, Inc., which played a key role in developing rent-a-cell jails for several job-starved Texas towns in the late 1980's. [See: Kidnapping and Extortion Texas Style, PLN, February '96]. Graham and others were defendants in civil lawsuits resulting in a $34 million federal judgment against them for civil conspiracy and violation of state and federal securities laws as part of a fraudulent scheme to finance six private prisons in small Texas municipalities. These same rent-a-cell jails, left holding millions in worthless junk municipal bonds, are now importing thousands of prisoners from widely scattered states in a desperate attempt to pay off the worthless bonds.

The convict Graham was charged with helping to escape was not named in court, but sources identified him as Dana McIntosh, a former computer company executive from Dallas serving a 75-year sentence for stabbing his wife. Graham allegedly told McIntosh that he could secure him a job as a prison trusty, which would allow him to work on jobs outside the prison walls.

Once outside, McIntosh would be whisked to Louisiana, where a plane, provided and piloted by Graham would meet him and take McIntosh and his girlfriend to another country. Graham indicated he had done extensive research on which countries they could safely flee to and assured McIntosh and his girlfriend that new identities, and the documents to support them, would be prepared. Graham apparently used his close ties to James A. "Andy" Collins, former head of the state prison system, to lend credence to his ability to make the plan work. Collins announced his resignation last fall after Gov. George W. Bush ordered an investigation into Collins' business dealings with James Brunson, a former officer with N-Group, and with former Houston Mayor Fred Hofheinz, both of whom were defendants in the federal lawsuits over fraudulent prison development schemes.

"I have not been shown any evidence to lead me to believe that Mr. Collins is involved in the incident," said Allan Polunsky, chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice. "Of course we are conducting an investigation to ensure there was no complicity by any employee of the department."

One source close to the investigation, though, said that Collins had issued Graham an identification badge normally reserved for criminal justice board members and other high ranking officials. The badge would have allowed Graham unlimited access anywhere in any Texas prison.

Before the escape plot was uncovered, McIntosh had been scheduled for a reclassification hearing, something rarely done in the case of a murderer serving a 75-year sentence. As for the unusual circumstances of the reclassification review, Polunsky said, "That situation is also being reviewed. We don't know for sure how he got [scheduled] back [for a reclassification hearing], but we are going to find out. I have placed the highest priority on this."

If Graham is convicted and sentenced to a prison term, perhaps it would be a fitting punishment to require him to serve his time in one of the substandard rent-a-cell jails that N-Group Securities participated in financing.

Source: Houston Chronicle

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