Inmate escapes from prison at Monroe

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SEATTLE — An inmate with three months left to serve on his sentence escaped from the minimum security unit at the Monroe Correctional Complex, the state Department of Corrections said.

Corrections officers and local police are looking for Brandon Musto, 37, who turned up missing at the 9 p.m. Wednesday count.

Prisoners are counted four times a day so he could not have been gone more than a "handful" of hours before he was missed, said spokesman Chad Lewis.

Musto apparently went over a fence, although officials are checking video as they investigate exactly how he got out and whether he had any help, Lewis said.

Searchers believe they know where Musto may be found, but they won't say publicly so as not to tip him off, Lewis said.A man has been arrested in McCleary and accused of rendering criminal assistance in the escape.

Grays Harbor County Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Shumate said a 59-year-old man was arrested around 4 a.m. Thursday and a vehicle was seized.Musto began serving time in September 2011 for a for vehicular assault conviction in Thurston County and was scheduled for release in February 2013.

Why would a short-timer risk several more years in prison that could come with an escape conviction?

"That might be the first question we ask him," Lewis said.

Only offenders who are within four years of release are kept in the minimum security unit.

"You have a foot out the door, there's little incentive," to escape, Lewis said.

There was nothing notable in Musto's prison record and his behavior had to be good to qualify for minimum security, Lewis said Thursday.

Minimum security is one of five units at the prison complex at Monroe, 24 miles northeast of Seattle. It holds about 460 of the 2,500 offenders in the state's second-largest prison. The state's largest prison is the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center near the Tri-Cities with about 2,700 inmates.

Anyone spotting Musto is asked to call 911. He's described as white, 5-foot-8, 180 pounds with brown eyes and dark hair. He has tattoos on his right arm and left wrist.

It's been years since the last escape from the Monroe prison and Lewis couldn't recall one.

A corrections officer was assaulted in the special offenders unit at Monroe in August and had to be treated at a Seattle hospital.

In January 2011 Corrections Officer Jayme Biendl was strangled in the prison chapel. Inmate Byron Scherf is charged with aggravated murder and is scheduled for trial in March in Everett.