Guard Charged in Escape Took Paintings From Convict

Gene Palmer says it was all an innocent mistake
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2015 8:54 PM CDT
Updated Jun 25, 2015 7:08 AM CDT
2nd Worker at Prison Charged in Escape
A New York State Police officer escorts suspended Clinton Correctional Facility guard Gene Palmer, left, from Plattsburgh Town Court in Plattsburgh, NY.   (Rob Fountain/The Press-Republican via AP)

A prison guard has now been charged in connection with the great escape from a New York prison. The accused is Gene Palmer, whose name surfaced Tuesday in reports that he delivered hacksaw blades hidden inside frozen hamburger meat to escapee Richard Matt. Palmer, 57, who has been on paid leave since the escape, is charged with promoting dangerous prison contraband, destroying evidence, and misconduct, reports CNN. His lawyer continues to insist that Palmer knew nothing of the escape plans or those blades. Authorities say that prison tailor shop worker Joyce Mitchell hid the blades and drill bits in the meat, froze it, and asked Palmer to deliver the hamburger to Matt, reports ABC News. More:

  • "Before he handed off the meat, he asked if there was anything wrong with it and she said no," says attorney Andrew Brockway. Because of that assurance, Palmer didn't put it through a metal detector, says Brockway. No matter what, though, the latter lapse is a violation of prison rules, says Clinton County DA Andrew Wylie.
  • So why would incarcerated inmates want frozen hamburger anyway? They had a hot plate for cooking. A source tells CNN that Palmer allegedly provided a screwdriver and needle-nose pliers that David Sweat used to repair electrical breakers in a catwalk behind his cell. The men apparently used the catwalk as part of their escape route.
  • CNN further cites a document that states Matt, who painted celebrity portraits, gave paintings to Palmer, which he tried to get rid of by burning and burying them after the men escaped. ABC News has this from a statement Palmer made to investigators: "Matt provided me with elaborate paintings and information on the illegal acts that inmates were committing within the facility. In turn, I provided him with benefits such as paint, paintbrushes, movement of inmates, hamburger meat, altering of electrical boxes in the catwalk areas."
(More prison stories.)

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