Two jail employees held over escape

Published: Thursday 25th June 2015 by The News Editor

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A US maximum-security prison guard believed to have delivered tools inside frozen meat to two inmates before they escaped has been arrested.

Gene Palmer appeared before a judge in Plattsburgh to face charges of promoting prison contraband, tampering with physical evidence and official misconduct. He was held on 25,000 dollars (£15,900) bail and defence lawyer Andrew Brockway said he will plead not guilty.

Inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt were reported missing from the Clinton County Correctional Facility in northern New York State on June 6.

The authorities say they cut through the steel wall at the back of their cells, crawled down a catwalk, broke through a brick wall, cut their way into and out of a steam pipe and then sliced through the chain and lock on a manhole cover outside the prison.

Prison employee Joyce Mitchell has been charged with helping them escape. The prison tailor shop instructor has pleaded not guilty and remains in custody.

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said Mitchell told investigators she smuggled hacksaw blades, a screwdriver and other tools into the prison by placing them in frozen hamburger meat.

He said she then placed the meat in a refrigerator in the tailor shop where she worked and Palmer took the meat to Sweat and Matt, who were housed in a section where inmates are allowed to cook their own meals. The district attorney said the guard did not know the tools were inside the meat.

Palmer had been placed on leave on Tuesday. At the time, Mr Brockway told Plattsburgh television station WPTZ he was completely forthcoming during several hours of questioning on Saturday.

“I can 100% confirm that he did not know they were planning on breaking out of the prison,” Mr Brockway said.

Searchers hunting for the escaped killers were contending with steep slopes, thick woods, sticky bogs, biting bugs and the possibility that the pair on the run from prison for 19 days are armed.

Published: Thursday 25th June 2015 by The News Editor

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