Jail probe continues as inmate who was mistakenly released turns himself in

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PORTLAND — The man who was mistakenly released from the Cumberland County Jail the evening of Dec. 2 turned himself in last Friday.

Portland police, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department deputies and members of a regional violent crimes task force had been looking for Ahmed Ismail, 23, since shortly after his release.

Ismail was released after jail staff called for him instead of a man with a similar name. Sheriff Mark Dion said Ismail played along by pretending to be the other man.

On Friday, Dec. 4, Ismail went to his attorney’s office on Congress Street and surrendered to police, who closed one block of the street until Ismail was in custody. He was taken back to the jail at about 3:45 p.m.

Ismail was being held in the maximum-security unit at the Cumberland County Jail for allegedly robbing a couple in June. Portland police say they’ve had 55 contacts with him and they believe he is connected to several robberies and gun violations.

Chief James Craig said police had reason to believe Ismail was still in the area, and he and Dion met with Somali leaders following the accidental release. Those leaders, according to Craig, agreed to facilitate Ismail’s return, if possible. 

Dion said an investigation will determine what went wrong on Dec. 2.

“Errors were committed,” Dion said, adding that of the 10,000 intakes and releases the jail processed this year, only one other person was erroneously released. 

The inmate who was supposed to have been released Dec. 2 is Ismail Mohamed Awad, 20. He was being held after being arrested Nov. 5 on robbery charges in Portland.

Dion said guards usually confirm the identification of inmates by photo. He said Awad and Ismail do not look alike.

“He took the other gentleman’s clothing, wallet and personal belongings,” Dion said. “He should have said, ‘no, that’s not me.'”

Staff at the jail’s intake division recognized the mistake a short time after Ismail walked out the door, when an officer called from the lobby asking where Awad was.

Dion said Ismail may have left the jail in a vehicle. Awad was released at about 2:30 a.m. Thursday.

Ismail was arrested by Portland police on July 27 and charged with armed
robbery and discharging a firearm after he allegedly robbed a man and a woman on Smith Street. The arrest came a day after Ismail
was detained by police in connection with the report of a man waving a gun at a boy at 658 Congress St.

No arrests were made in connection with that incident, but Congress
Street was closed for more than a half hour while police investigated.

Ismail’s last known address is in Portland. His family had recently moved to get away from him, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

He was being held on two counts of robbery and two counts of aggravated reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon. He now faces additional charges of escape and aggravated forgery, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net

Last updated at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 7.


Ahmed Ismail
was mistakenly released Wednesday, Dec. 2, from the Cumberland County Jail in Portland, where he was being held on two counts of robbery and two counts of aggravated reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon. He is described as 6 feet tall, 150 pounds. Information about his whereabouts can be provided to the Portland Police Department at 874-8533.
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http://www.theforecaster.net/weblink/34871Ismail Mohamed Awad, 20, should have been released from the Cumberland County Jail after making bail. He was arrested Nov. 5 on robbery charges in Portland, and also charged with four outstanding warrants from Portland, Windham and University of Southern Maine police.