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Escaped fire crew inmate found hiding in hotel spa in Koreatown

Kent Lesporavsky walked away from a fire crew in Highland while they were clearing weeds from a flood-control channel in preparation for El Niño storms.

Kent Lesporavsky walked away from a fire crew in Highland while they were clearing weeds from a flood-control channel in preparation for El Niño storms.

(San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner)

Kent Lesporavsky’s spa experience was not a relaxing one – and he wasn’t wearing a towel around his waist in a steam room when he was found.

The 43-year-old Russian was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and white pants, a far cry from the orange inmate uniform he was supposed to be wearing before he slipped away a week ago from a fire crew working on clearing weeds.

On Tuesday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation inmate was found hiding out in a hotel spa in Koreatown.

Corrections agents had been tracking Lesporavsky’s whereabouts since he walked away from the inmate crew last Wednesday in Highland. On Tuesday at 1:30 a.m., they traced him to Koreatown, Sgt. Gabriel Romo said. But as they prepared to call off the search, agents intercepted a call from Lesporavsky asking for money.

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By 1:45 a.m., agents tracked Lesporavsky to the hotel spa and arrested him. He was taken to the California Institution for Men in Chino, where he was placed in a high-security ward, Romo said.

“It was difficult to find him because he didn’t know a lot of people in Southern California,” he said.

Lesporavsky had only two or three close relatives in the U.S. and California, Romo said. Before escaping, Lesporavsky lived and worked at the Fenner Canyon Conservation Camp #41 in Valyermo.

He and fellow inmates were clearing weeds from a flood control channel in Highland in preparation for El Niño storms Nov. 4 when he walked away, prison officials said. A helicopter, police dogs and officers from several law enforcement agencies searched nearby canyons and foothills for Lesporavsky.

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Authorities believe someone may have picked him and drove him out of the area.

“You can’t watch every inmate for every single minute of the day,” Romo said. “It’s impossible.”

Lesporavsky was serving prison time for transportation of marijuana, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. He has a history of theft, drug use and assault on police, authorities said. His release date was set for Aug. 7, 2018.

But after his escape, it is unclear when Lesporavsky will be released because he is now facing new charges. One thing is certain, Romo said: Lesporavsky has lost his fire crew weed-clearing privileges.

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“He ruined that opportunity,” Romo said.

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