A felon who walked away from Black River Correctional Center last July before a multi-state crime spree faces 40 years in federal prison after he was convicted last week of having a firearm.

James C. Misleveck, 19, and his co-defendant, James Newman, 29, walked away from a minimum-security prison in Black River Falls and stole a shotgun before kidnapping a woman at gunpoint and stealing several cars.

They left the woman and her car in Sparta, eluded police on a high-speed chase and were arrested days later in Florida after police said they robbed and beat an elderly store clerk before a another short chase with police.

While both face charges in Florida and Jackson County, Misleveck pleaded Jan. 30 in federal court to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rita Rumbelow said Misleveck’s prior convictions may qualify him as a “career armed criminal,” which means he could face a minimum of 15 years in prison on the gun charge alone. He will be sentenced April 10.

Florida released Misleveck to federal authorities. However, Newman’s defense attorneys on Monday asked for a continuance on charges of grand theft auto and fleeing, according to a spokeswoman’s for the prosecutors office. He will be tried March 21 in Broward County, Fla.

The men face seven felony charges in Jackson County, including kidnapping and armed robbery. No court dates have been set.

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