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Escaped inmate still on the loose

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A prisoner who walked away from a work crew in South Salt Lake Tuesday night was still free Thursday morning, and Department of Corrections spokesman Jack Ford said a sizeable number of officers were looking for him.

Promontory Correctional Facility inmate Bobby Payton, 26, was working with seven other inmates at BFI Recycling, 3010 S. 900 West, at 10 p.m. Tuesday when he disappeared.

The officers brought the other seven inmates back to Promontory Correctional Facility, a privately run facility located in the northwest corner of the Utah State Prison in Draper, Promontory Warden Jimmie Stewart said.

Corrections officers routinely bring groups of inmates to work sites and check up on them regularly, Stewart said.

"It was (during) one of those regular checks, as I understand it, that (the officer) realized this guy (Payton) was gone," Stewart said.

Promontory Correctional Facility is used to house inmates whose parole date is nearing.

The facility teaches inmates skills that can be used after they are released from prison and trains them in preparation for their parole, Stewart said.

Payton was scheduled for parole Sept. 12.

He now faces felony escape charges, a second-degree felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, court documents state.

Investigators are searching homes Payton has been known to frequent.

But they have run into a brick wall so far in their search, Ford said.

Payton has a number of felony convictions on his record.

In 1994 and 1995, he was convicted in Weber County of fraudulent financial transaction and forgery.

He has a 1996 conviction in Box Elder County for possession of a dangerous weapon.

In 1997, he was convicted in Cache County for assault on a prisoner.

Payton was paroled from prison in April 1999. He then violated parole in November and was arrested again Dec. 1, 1999, on two theft charges. He returned to prison on Jan. 4, 2000.

E-mail: dsmeath@desnews.com