HELENA – A man who escaped from a minimum-security prison in Colorado after a federal court rejected his appeal led police on a high-speed chase in Montana early Monday that ended when he crashed the stolen vehicle he was driving, authorities said.
Gary Conti Jr. walked away from the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood on Friday, 10 days after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his appeal of a conviction of participating in a scheme to defraud a Blackfeet Tribe youth program.
Just after 1 a.m. Monday, Bozeman police officers spotted Conti in a vehicle that had been reported stolen, Chief Steven Crawford said. They took up chase on Interstate 90 headed east out of the city, and called ahead for assistance from Park County authorities.
Law-enforcement officers laid spike strips across the roadway. Conti swerved to avoid the spikes and crashed into a parked Park County patrol vehicle, Crawford said.
Conti was injured and taken to a hospital, but Crawford did not know his condition.
“He did have serious injuries,” Crawford said.
Nobody else was injured. The interstate was closed for about three hours for a Montana Highway Patrol investigation, Park County sheriff’s officials said.
Besides being held on a federal fugitive warrant, Montana authorities are investigating additional charges against Conti that could include fleeing and eluding police officers.
Conti was a consultant for the northwestern Montana tribe’s Po’Ka Project. Last year, he was convicted of bankruptcy fraud and of kicking back money to two of the program’s leaders, who themselves were convicted of stealing from the program and falsifying invoices.
Conti was sentenced to five years in prison after a jury found him guilty on 29 criminal counts.
On Oct. 21, the 9th Circuit rejected Conti’s argument that his conviction should be overturned because of an error in a jury instruction.
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