Multimillionaire busted in bizarre plot to escape Florida jail and flee to a castle in France: report
John Manchec (Indian River County Sheriff's Office).

A 78-year-old multimillionaire being held in the Indian River County Jail in a coastal Florida community has been busted in what authorities are describing as a complicated plot to bust out of jail with the help of several accomplices and flee to a castle he owns in France, reported The Daily Beast on Tuesday.

John Manchec, a dual citizen of the United States and France who made his fortune in a variety of businesses including aircraft light control equipment, is currently being held pending trial for 49 charges of child pornography. He can now add charges of attempted escape to the list.

"Manchec’s alleged plan was laid out by Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers at a Monday news conference. Flowers explained that the escape attempt had revolved around an April 12 doctor’s appointment, but that a tipster — one of the people allegedly recruited to help Manchec escape — had alerted deputies ahead of time," reported A.J. McDougall. "'Essentially, the plan comes down to this,' Flowers said, according to the Associated Press. 'These folks that are on the outside are going to wait until Manchec has a doctor’s visit, and they are going to take out our corrections staff while he’s out at the medical facility.'"

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"Manchec ... had at least four co-conspirators, two of whom were his employees, Flowers said. An investigation of Manchec’s jail phone records revealed he referred to the escape plan as the 'paint job' when speaking on the phone with them," said the report. "The other two plotters were fellow inmates at the Indian River County Jail, Flowers said. One of the inmates, Byron Harvey, had his bail posted by Manchec, and was allowed to live in the millionaire’s house as they prepared for the escape. Harvey was tasked with packing Manchec’s suitcase, including his favorite liquor, according to the sheriff."

According to the report, after Manchec's co-conspirators pepper-sprayed the guards, they were supposed to take him to a private plane he would use to flee the country. It is believed that his destination was Château de Pechrigal, a medieval castle he owns in southern France.

Manchec has fled the country before. After his initial charges in 2014, he posted $500,000 bond and then fled to Château de Pechrigal, where he remained for years because France refused to extradite him. According to the report, he was finally recaptured in 2020 while he was visiting the Dominican Republic, and has been in the Indian River County Jail since that time.