SANTA ANA (CNS) - An Orange County jail inmate on the eve of being handed over to federal custody tried to escape from the Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana Tuesday, but quick-thinking deputies foiled the plan.
Michael Johannes Palko, 31, was dressed in civilian clothes in what's called a "control area" of the jail, where visitors enter and exit, at about 6 or 7 a.m. Tuesday, said Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Palko was originally arrested in May 2021 and booked on suspicion of a robbery in San Clemente, Braun said.
Deputies recognized the inmate, however, and took him back into custody where he was being housed, Braun said.
Deputies conducted a full count of inmates at the Men's Central Jail and the Intake Release Center and everyone was accounted for, Braun added.
Orange County District Attorney's Office prosecutors dismissed his case Feb. 17. In that case he was charged with three counts of robbery and two counts of attempted robbery with sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a firearm.
Palko was indicted Dec. 14 in federal court on robbery and attempted robbery, according to court records.
The indictment alleges that on May 6, 2021, he robbed a GNC store of $426.55 at 13065 Peyton Drive, Chino Hills; on May 13, 2021, he robbed about $1,100 in cash and products from a GNC at 2050 E. Lincoln Ave. in Anaheim; on May 14, 2021, he attempted to rob Sally Beauty Supply Store, 943 Avenida Pico in San Clemente; and on May 24, 2021, he robbed about $2,201.62 from GNC at 1735 N. Victory Place, Burbank.
Palko was accused of using a 9mm caliber pistol in the holdups, according to the indictment.