News and Press Releases

Middlesex county, n.J., man in federal custody charged with attempting to escape from trenton hospital

February 24, 2012


TRENTON, N.J. – A Middlesex County, N.J., man who was in custody awaiting a hearing for allegedly violating conditions of his federal supervised release made his first appearance in federal court today on charges of attempting to flee from a hospital, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Joseph Vitale, 59, of Milltown, N.J., appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lois H. Goodman today in Trenton federal court on a Complaint charging him with escape and assault. He was ordered held without bail.

According to the Complaint:

On March 12, 2008,Vitale was convicted in U.S. District Court of bank fraud. He was sentenced to prison and released in April 2009, when he began serving five years of supervised release. In January 2012, Vitale was charged with violating several conditions of his supervised release and was taken in to custody by the U.S. Marshal’s Service on Feb. 7, 2012. After making an appearance in court Vitale complained of chest pains and was taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, where he was placed in the custody of a private security service that has a contract with the U.S. Marshal to provide security for federal prisoners while under treatment at the hospital. Vitale remained under 24-hour armed guard.

On Feb. 13, 2012, as one of the security guards was adjusting Vitale’s leg restraints, Vitale ran out of his room, evaded the two security guards, and ran down the hallway in an attempt to escape. The two security guards ran down the hallway after Vitale and yelled at him to stop. At one point, Vitale screamed “I’m getting the (expletive) out of here.” The two security guards caught up to Vitale and while attempting to subdue him, one of the security guards struck his knees on the floor. Vitale continued to struggle with the security guards and made several attempts to grab one of their guns, but he was unable to remove it from its holster. With the assistance of at least one other individual, the security guards were able to subdue Vitale and handcuff him.

If convicted of the attempted escape charge, Vitale faces maximum potential penalties of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted on the assault charge, Vitale faces maximum potential penalties of eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Fishman credited deputy marshals of the U.S. Marshal’s Service, under the direction of U.S. Marshal Juan Mattos, Jr., with the investigation leading to the arrest.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan W. Romankow of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Organized Crime/Gangs Unit.

The charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Defense counsel: David Schafer Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender

Vitale, Joseph Complaint

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