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Fourth Citrus fugitive surrenders

A deal with the state and love for a brother led to the surrender Sunday morning of the fourth of the five Citrus County jail escapees.

Joseph Allen Provost, 22, surrendered to Escambia County deputies at a Pensacola bus station. Two Citrus investigators, who went with Provost's attorney to Pensacola, brought him back to the same jail he escaped from Feb. 17. Provost was serving 25 years for robbery and kidnapping.

"I thank God for answering my prayers," said Provost's mother, Pat Bryant. "I'm just glad to have him back."

So is the Sheriff's Office, which is still hunting for the last man, Frank Lynn Wiley, 46, of Inverness.

The five men made their early evening escape 11 days ago by jumping up to a rail, then pushing aside a ceiling tile. They crawled through an air duct, leading them to a maintenance room. There they found a ladder, which they used to scale the jail's perimeter fence.

The first escapee turned himself in last Sunday and later that evening two others were found in a woods just north of the jail.

Actions leading to Provost's decision to surrender began a week ago.

Just after midnight, law officers arrested Provost's brother, Robert, and charged him with helping his fugitive brother by giving him clothing and money after the escape.

Later that day, Joseph's attorney, Charles P. Vaughn, said he was offered a deal. Sheriff's Investigator Marvin Padgett told Vaughn if Provost returned, the state attorney would not prosecute Robert, 17, who had just been released to his parents'custody, Vaughn said.

After the offer, Vaughn called Provost's parents and told them he could help if he could talk to Joseph. Provost called Vaughn Tuesday night and was told of the deal. Provost wanted to know how much prison time his brother faced if convicted. Vaughn said he would check and asked Provost to call back Wednesday.

Wednesday morning, Provost was told his brother might get three to five years for his role in the escape. Vaughn said Provost then told him he would think about giving himself up and call again Thursday.

But Wednesday afternoon, Vaughn said he found out law officers had placed a "trap and trace" phone tap on his office line in an effort to locate Provost.

"They (sheriff's investigators) bring me into the loop to try and help," Vaughn said. "Then they started using me to find my client. It was illegal and it almost ruined any chance we had to help get Joe back."

Vaughn said he discovered the phone tap when the phone company called to confirm that Vaughn had asked for it because of harassing calls. Vaughn said law officers lied to the phone company to get the phone tap.

The Sheriff's Office denied asking for a tap. Spokeswoman Gail Tierney said they did serve a subpoena on the telephone company seeking a listing of Vaughn's toll calls. Any collect calls Vaughn had received would be in the listings, although a "trap and trace" would allow faster determination of the caller's location.

But Vaughn said he heard three times from a United Telephone worker that investigators asked for a "trap and trace," because Vaughn had been getting harassing calls.

Provost finally called Vaughn about 10:45 p.m. Saturday from Mobile, Ala. Vaughn said he told Provost to cross the Florida state line and he would meet him at the Pensacola bus station. Vaughn said surrendering in Florida would be easier than going through the extradition process.