A 21-year-old man who allegedly orchestrated a break out at a juvenile detention center in Durango last week faces possible charges of aiding escape, a felony.
According to an arrest affidavit, Antonio Kolessar of Aurora faces four to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000, followed by a mandatory parole period of five years.
“What a bad, horrible choice to make,” said Kent Moe, executive director for the mountain region of Rite of Passage, which operates the Robert E. DeNier Youth Services Center at 720 Turner Drive in Bodo Park.
The DeNier center, which has a capacity for about 28 youths, holds troubled males and females between the ages of 10 and 21 at a secure facility in a commercial/industrial district in south Durango.
Just before 12:30 p.m. Friday, authorities were alerted that five juveniles had escaped through a hole cut in the chain-link fence that surrounds the facility, and they were seen getting into a gray Hyundai Sonata.
The vehicle was spotted in Pagosa Springs about an hour later. A police chase eventually led to the driver and the five escapees being arrested and detained around 2 p.m. outside the town of South Fork, about 44 miles from Pagosa Springs.
It’s believed Kolessar has some relation to one of the minors at the center.
“It’s obvious he (Kolessar) cased the place,” Moe said.
Moe said security cameras at the center are placed to observe what’s going on inside the facility, rather than the outside perimeter. Still, video footage from the La Plata County Jail, adjacent to the center, tracked Kolessar’s movements.
The DeNier center is situated on a hill in Bodo Park. Moe said Kolessar parked in a parking lot below the center and walked up the hill to the fence in an area that’s obscured from the inside of the center by a grove of trees.
“You wouldn’t be able to see from the inside this was done,” Moe said.
Kolessar walked up the hill with bolt cutters around 6:17 a.m., just after DeNier staff conducted its daily perimeter search at 6 a.m. He then cut links in the fence from the outside, so that from the inside the fence still looked secure, Moe said.
Around noon, the juveniles at the facility were let out into the courtyard for daily exercise. Moe said students who eventually partook in the getaway participated in activities and displayed normal behavior.
But after exercises were done, one of the juveniles lifted the cut part of the fence, allowing others to escape. Though five youths did make a run for it, about a dozen others chose not to leave the center, Moe said.
According to police records, one of the escapees was 20 years old. He was arrested and taken to La Plata County Jail and will be tried as an adult.
That person, Quinton Green, was charged with escape, a Class 3 felony, which holds a sentence of four to 12 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.
Green had entered DeNier on March 23 for a robbery conviction, a Class 4 felony, out of Douglass County. He was scheduled to be released from DeNier in August 2018.
The other juveniles who escaped, whose names are redacted in court records, include:
A boy who entered DeNier on March 23 for a Class 5 robbery conviction in Arapahoe County. He was scheduled to be released January 2020.A boy who entered DeNier on April 4 for an assault-with-serious-bodily-injury conviction, a Class 3 felony, in Jefferson County. He was to be released May 2019.A boy who was serving a sentence for second-degree burglary, a Class 5 felony, in Douglass County. He entered DeNier on April 4 and was scheduled to be released October 2018.A boy who was convicted on aggravated motor vehicle theft in the first degree, a Class 5 felony. He entered DeNier on April 20 and was scheduled to be released in October 2018.Moe said the four juveniles are back at DeNier, and it is likely they will face additional repercussions for the escape.
“I would suspect additional charges would be pending, but right now, we’re just glad they’re back and safe,” he said Sunday.
In the aftermath of the escape, Moe said DeNier will work on getting cameras placed to capture areas outside the center. The center also plans to add more perimeter checks throughout the day.