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Multi-millionaire planned to escape US prison and take private plane to French chateau

A multi-millionaire's elaborate prison escape plan has been foiled by authorities after a two-month investigation.

John Manchec's plan involved some of his employees and inmates he had befriended since being jailed in Florida on charges relating to images of child abuse.

Explaining the plan, Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers said that Manchec was going to use a doctor's visit to leave the prison while his accomplices pepper-sprayed prison guards.

He would then be taken to his private plane in nearby Fort Pierce, so that he could fly to France, where he also has citizenship.

Manchec has escaped to France once before - following his 2014 arrest on 49 charges, he left the US after posting a bond of nearly $500,000 (£402,000), retreating to his medieval estate, Chateau Pechrigal.

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France refused to extradite him but he was eventually arrested while in the Dominican Republic in 2020, and jailed in Florida.

Sheriff Flowers said that Manchec had a medical appointment booked for April but someone who knew about his escape plan had told authorities, prompting an investigation.

Sheriff Flowers said that the plan also included Manchec's 140-ft yacht and various vehicles, as well as paying the bail for a cellmate who lived in his home and helped make the arrangements, including preparing a suitcase and buying his liquor.

"This was the real deal," Sheriff Flowers said.

Manchec is still in the Indian River County Jail, only now with additional charges related to the escape plan.

Two inmates and two of his employees have also been charged with conspiracy in relation to the plan.