Missouri man on lam for 30 years arrested again

Saturday, January 9, 2010 | 4:58 p.m. CST

FORSYTH — A man accused of escaping a Florida prison 30 years ago has been arrested again in Missouri, weeks after being captured and released on bond.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Saturday in a news release that Oscar Richardson, 61, was picked up Friday at his home in the southwest Missouri town of Ridgedale on two outstanding warrants.

One was an extradition warrant from Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, and the other stems from allegations that Richardson failed to file Missouri income taxes.

He was being held in the Taney County Jail without bond, a correctional officer at the jail said.

Richardson was initially captured Dec. 19 in Taney County after somebody phoned in a tip to Florida's "12 Days of Fugitives" campaign to locate that state's oldest and most violent prison escapees. He had been going by the name Eugene Ward.

However, Richardson was released on a $25,000 bond days later, angering Florida officials who said the action diminished his crimes.

Richardson had been jailed in Florida for two armed robberies and is accused of escaping a work release center in 1979. He made his way to Missouri, where he owned a lawn care business and worked as a handyman for the owners of a Branson amusement park.

A message left Saturday at the home and office of Richardson's attorney, Dee Wampler, was not immediately returned. But Wampler has said his client has reformed himself and planned to return to Florida voluntarily.

He also has said the tax issues could complicate the extradition process.

Richardson was charged Monday in Taney County with three counts of failure to file income tax returns, a felony punishable by up to five years in state prison.

Ted Farnen, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Revenue, told the Springfield News Leader that investigators found no evidence that Richardson ever paid taxes on his Missouri earnings. Because of the statute of limitations, he only is being charged for failing to file in 2007, 2008 and 2009.


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