'Mastermind' Escapee Talks Close Calls on the Lam

As FBI investigates corruption at Dannemora prison
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2015 9:49 AM CDT
'Mastermind' Escapee Talks Close Calls on the Lam
Police stand over David Sweat after he was shot and captured near the Canadian border Sunday in Constable, NY.   (AP Photo)

David Sweat is sharing more details about that dry run he and Richard Matt performed the night before they busted out of prison. It was certainly thorough: Sweat, who claims to be the mastermind, says the pair broke out of their cells and meandered through tunnels and pipes before coming out of a manhole surrounded by houses. They then returned to their cells and tried for another, less visible manhole the next night, Clinton County DA Andrew Wylie tells NBC News. Prior to the practice run, Sweat says Matt "rarely" went into the tunnels. "To make a dry run and ... have the ability to escape, and then go back in, it is a little baffling," Wylie says. Officials are investigating whether prison guards were asleep on the job, reports CNN, which also has video of Sweat's arrest. Three top prison officials and nine staffers have already been put on leave.

But snoring isn't all investigators suspect. The FBI is reportedly investigating corruption at the prison. Some employees describe drug trafficking between prison workers and inmates, who used heroin. Meanwhile, Sweat, who has been upgraded to "fair" condition at a hospital, has also described several close calls during the inmates' time on the lam. At one point, he says Matt nearly ran into a sheriff's deputy, fell backward, and made some kind of noise, but he wasn't noticed. Another time, Sweat says he hid in a tree stand as border patrol agents surrounded his location, then moved on. Wylie, however, notes you should take Sweat's tales with a grain of salt. "He's a convicted felon, obviously convicted of a serious murder, and he escaped from state prison, so those are his statements and that's all I can go on," he says. (More David Sweat stories.)

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