Eugene Ward of Branson to be sentenced as Oscar Richardson of Florida
BRANSON, Mo. (AP) -- A man who lived peacefully in Branson for 26 years had pleaded guilty to escaping from a Florida prison in 1979.
Oscar Richardson, who was known in Branson as Eugene Ward, pleaded guilty Monday and will be returned to Florida to serve his prison time.
Richardson was arrested in December after an anonymous tip. He had served two years of a 10-year sentence for two armed robberies before escaping from a Florida work facility.
While living in Branson, he ran a lawn company and was a handyman.
The Springfield News-Leader reports that Richardson's attorney, Christopher Smith, said lawyers had agreed on a sentence recommendation of a year and a day for every year Richardson had left on his sentence. Florida records show he had eight years left on his sentence.
He'll be sentenced June 7.
After Richardson escaped from Florida he changed his life. He moved to Taney County, married, had children and is admired as a pillar to his community. Neighbors and familial pleas from the Branson area have not been heard by the hand of the Florida justice system.