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Honor farm escapee eludes capture

Authorities on Wednesday evening still were searching for a Turlock man who escaped from the Stanislaus County Men's Honor Farm on Monday night and evaded capture twice Tuesday as officers chased him through Ceres.

Antonio Bento, 26, was serving a sentence after he was convicted of burglary and possession of stolen property, said deputy Royjindar Singh, a sheriff's spokesman.

Bento was scheduled to be released Oct. 31. Singh said Bento's immigration status was in question, and he would most likely be turned over to federal authorities after his release.

Singh said Bento was reported missing about 8:30 p.m. Monday at the honor farm, the minimum-security facility near Grayson.

About 7 a.m. on Tuesday, a Ceres police community service officer spotted Bento driving a stolen 1991 Chevrolet pickup with a female passenger in the 1900 block of Memorial Drive in Ceres, according to a Ceres police news release.

Police said Bento pulled into a coffee shop parking lot in the 2000 block of Central Avenue and got out of the pickup before getting back in as officers approached him.

Bento drove two blocks on Hollister Street, where he stopped and fled on foot, running through yards and jumping fences, according to police.

The passenger was detained and questioned.

Officers chased Bento on foot, but he escaped, running across the six lanes of Highway 99 during morning rush hour. Authorities searched with a California Highway Patrol police dog until 9:30 a.m.

About 3 p.m., Bento was seen running near Ceres Memorial Park. Police believe he might have been hiding in the cemetery during the morning search.

Authorities chased Bento to the 5500 block of Central Avenue, where he ran into an orchard.

Authorities launched another search, this time with three police dogs and a helicopter. Police said the search lasted more than three hours, but Bento eluded capture for the second time.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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