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Press Release

Sex Offender Convicted of Escape from the Bureau of Prisons and Failing to Register as a Sex Offender

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A federal judge convicted an Illinois man yesterday on charges of escaping from the Bureau of Prisons and failing to register and update a sex offender registration.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Francis David Sherman, Sr., aka "Robert Copeland Shields", 65, was convicted of rape in Peoria County, Illinois, in 1981. He was also convicted of deviate sexual assault in Douglas County, Missouri, in 1998. Both convictions required the defendant to register in a sex offender registry every 90 days for the course of his life. In 2010, he was convicted in the Western District of Virginia of interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle and access device fraud. He received a sentence of 144 months in the Bureau of Prisons. In 2020, he was transferred to the James River Residential Reentry Center in Newport News. On or about October 27, 2020, he signed out of the Bureau of Prisons facility to go to work and never returned. On July 7, 2021, he was arrested in Escambia County, Florida, by members of a fugitive task force with Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. He last registered as a sex offender in Virginia on August 3, 2020. Under federal law, a sex offender must register and keep the registration current where the offender resides. He failed to register as a sex offender in Florida and update his registration in Virginia. The Virginia Department of State Police maintains the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry.

Sherman was convicted of escape from custody and failure to register and update a sex offender registration and faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison when sentenced on October 20. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of Virginia State Police, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Roderick C. Young accepted the verdict.

Special thanks to the U.S. Marshal Service and Escambia County Sherriff’s Office for their assistance in this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa McKeel and Devon Heath are prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:21-cr-51.

Updated June 23, 2022

Project Safe Childhood