Crime

Fayette escapee sentenced to two consecutive five-year prison terms

Mustafa Qasem
Mustafa Qasem

A Lexington man who freed himself from his handcuffs, escaped from an unlocked transport vehicle and was recaptured last year was sentenced Friday to two consecutive five-year prison terms.

Mustafa Qasem, 22, and his attorney, Joe Rugg, asked to have sentencing postponed until October, when Qasem is scheduled to complete a substance-abuse program at the Hope Center.

Fayette Circuit Judge Thomas Clark rejected that idea.

"I appreciate the request, but I can't see postponing sentencing for that length of time," Clark said.

Qasem had been on house arrest in September pending trial on charges of trafficking in a controlled substance, tampering with a security device and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested Sept. 5 because Fayette community corrections officers determined that he had violated conditions of his house arrest.

On New Circle Road en route to jail, he slipped out of his cuffs and opened the door to the vehicle, a Ford Crown Victoria, because the safety locks were not engaged. Qasem apparently ran to a nearby shop in an industrial park and used a sharp instrument to remove an ankle monitor. The device was found on the shop floor.

He was captured two weeks later and was charged with escape. He pleaded guilty April 29 to trafficking in a controlled substance and second-degree escape, according to court records.

Rugg asked the judge to grant probation or a conditional discharge for Qasem.

"Mr. Qasem has been candid with the court about his mistakes," Rugged said. "He has regretted the actions that put him in front of the court. He recognizes there could have been better decisions."

Qasem told the judge that if he were to receive probation or a conditional discharge, "I would do all I can not to embarrass myself" or the court.

But Clark was unimpressed and sentenced him to five years on the trafficking charge and five years on the escape.

In the wake of the Qasem escape, Fayette County jail staff were reminded to use better practices with handcuffs and safety locks when transporting inmates.

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