One of two bank robbers who broke out of the downtown federal jail last month by rappelling down the side of the high-rise on bed sheets pleaded not guilty this morning to federal escape charges.

Kenneth Conley, who appeared in federal court in a wheelchair for the second straight court appearance, faces up to five years in prison if he is convicted of the escape from the Metropolitan Correctional Center. He also faces sentencing for a previous bank robbery conviction.

Conley was caught in the south suburbs 18 days after the brazen escape. His alleged cohort, Joseph Banks, was apprehended on the North Side not quite three days after their early morning getaway.

asweeney@tribune.com