Advertisement

Accused guard once spoke of negative environment at N.Y. prison

By Doug G. Ware
1/10
Tom Chubb of the Akawesasne Mohawk Territory trains a spotlight on the woods while searching with a friend for escaped prisoners David Sweat and Richard Matt near Malone, New York on June 25, 2015. The two friends have spent several evenings searching for the prisoners in the hopes of collecting the reward money. Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/40773b57ede6277b91178696d55df976/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Tom Chubb of the Akawesasne Mohawk Territory trains a spotlight on the woods while searching with a friend for escaped prisoners David Sweat and Richard Matt near Malone, New York on June 25, 2015. The two friends have spent several evenings searching for the prisoners in the hopes of collecting the reward money. Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo

DANNEMORA, N.Y., June 25 (UPI) -- A New York prison guard accused of helping two killers escape said once that the facility is one of the nation's best, but it fosters a negative environment.

Gene Palmer, a 27-year veteran at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., was arrested Wednesday and accused of granting favors to David Sweat and Richard Matt that allowed them to escape on June 6.

Advertisement

Thursday, he was released from jail on a $25,000 bond, USA Today reported.

Palmer, 57, was charged with promoting prison contraband, tampering with physical evidence and official misconduct. He has told authorities, however, that he knew nothing of the prisoners' plans to escape.

RELATED Second prison worker arrested in New York inmate escape

Investigators believe Palmer provided Sweat and Matt access to a screwdriver and pliers on multiple occasions in exchange for artwork -- which he reportedly said he destroyed and hid after the pair's escape. Officials say Palmer also passed along a package of frozen ground beef which contained tools hidden inside the meat, supposedly prepared by another implicated prison employee, Joyce Mitchell.

During an interview with police last weekend, Palmer said he also granted the prisoners access to electrical wiring tunnels in the facility, which the pair would ultimately use to aid in their prison break.

Advertisement

The favors were granted to the prisoners in exchange for the artwork and tips on illegal activity elsewhere in the prison.

RELATED Prison worker allegedly put escape tools in frozen hamburger meat

"I provided him with benefits such as paint, paint brushes, movement of inmates, hamburger meat, altering of electrical boxes in the catwalk areas," Palmer told investigators. "I did not realize at the time that the assistance provided to Matt or Sweat made their escape easier."

News media also reported remarks that Palmer made about the prison during a media interview 15 years ago -- in which he said morale among workers at the facility was low.

"With the money that they pay you, you'll go bald, you'll have high blood pressure, you'll become an alcoholic," he said, NBC News reported Thursday.

RELATED Police find DNA of escaped prisoners in Owls Head, N.Y., cabin

"You'll divorce, and then you'll kill yourself," he said, while also describing the Clinton Correctional Facility as one of the best maximum security prisons in the United States.

At a court hearing Thursday, Palmer requested a new attorney and the proceeding was postponed until Monday.

More than 1,000 law enforcement officers continue to search for the escaped prisoners, which is now in its third week. One official said the men may be armed with firearms and ammunition taken from unoccupied hunting cabins in the Adirondack Mountains.

Advertisement

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement