Steven Jay Russell

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Steven Jay Russell
Born1957 (age 64–65)
OccupationCon artist
Known forMultiple successful escapes from several prisons
Allan B. Polunsky Unit, where Russell is located

Steven Jay Russell (born 1957) is an American con artist, known for escaping from prison multiple times. I Love You Phillip Morris, a film about his life and crimes, was produced in 2009. In 2011, his crimes were featured on the television series I Almost Got Away with It, in the episode "Got A Boyfriend to Support". He was also the subject of On The Run, a 2005 episode of The Discovery Channel series King of Cons.


On March 20, 1998, Russell posed as a millionaire from Virginia in an attempt to legitimize a $75,000 loan from NationsBank in Dallas; when bank officials became suspicious and alerted the police, Russell feigned a heart attack and was transported to the hospital. Russell was placed on security watch, but he impersonated an FBI agent and called the hospital on his cell phone to tell them he could be released.[1]

U.S. Marshals later tracked down Russell in Florida, where they arrested him on April 5, 1998, when he went to retrieve a fax. Russell was sentenced to a total of 144 years in prison (99 years for the escapes and 45 years for subsequent scams).

As of 2010, Russell is in the Allan B. Polunsky Unit[2][3] on a 23-hour lockup, only having one free hour a day to shower and exercise. He was previously held in the Mark W. Michael Unit and the W.J. Estelle Unit.[4][5] His maximum sentence date is March 13, 2113 and he became eligible for parole on December 15, 2020.[2]

In media[edit]


A film about his life and crimes was produced in 2009, named I Love You Phillip Morris, starring Jim Carrey as Russell[6] and Ewan McGregor as his boyfriend Phillip Morris.[7]

Internet and print media[edit]

Since the movie went into production and Russell's story became more popular, several articles appeared in print and online uncovering lesser known details of his exploits. Esquire magazine interviewed both Russell and Morris for its feature, "The Great Escapee",[8] while The Guardian published "I Love You, Phillip Morris: A Conman's Story".[9]


  • McVicker, Steve (June 25, 2003). I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks. Miramax Books. ISBN 0-7868-6903-8.
  • McWilliams, James (July 4, 2003). "The Master Manipulator". The Texas Observer. Archived from the original on October 2, 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-19.


  1. ^ The Lakekand Ledger, April 10, 1998, via google news, with a photo of S. Russell, page B5 (10 in the google reader).
  2. ^ a b "RUSSELL, STEVEN L". Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on November 30, 2019. TDCJ ID: 00760259, SID: 05138971
  3. ^ Stein, Joshua David. "Ewan McGregor: Filthy and Gorgeous." (Archived August 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine) Out. Friday February 12, 2010. Retrieved on December 10, 2010. "[...] the two live lavishly until Russell gets caught and goes to prison for good (Escape, Case No. 9,856-C). Russell -- Inmate No. 00760259 -- has a maximum sentence that would keep him imprisoned until July 12, 2140 -- 47,595 days after the film opens."
  4. ^ Day, Elizabeth. "I love you Phillip Morris: a conman's story." The Observer. Sunday September 6, 2009. Retrieved on December 10, 2010.
  5. ^ McVicker, Steve (1997-02-06). "King Con". Houston Press. Retrieved 2021-07-09.
  6. ^, "Jim Carrey Loves Phillip Morris"
  7. ^ Ewan McGregor Cast In I Love You Phillip Morris |The Movie Blog
  8. ^ Hannaford, Alex. "The Great Escapee | Prison | Crime & Justice". Retrieved 2017-11-30.
  9. ^ Day, Elizabeth (September 6, 2009). "I love you Phillip Morris: a conman's story". The Guardian. London.