A guard at the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York, where two inmates escaped, told police he allowed the men special access in the prison and gave them supplies, reported NBC News Thursday. The 57-year-old guard, Gene Palmer, said that he didn’t think the two convicted murderers would escape. He also told the New York State Police and the FBI in a statement that he helped the escaped prisoners, Richard Matt and David Sweat, because Matt gifted him paintings and gave him information about other inmates' illegal acts. Palmer was arrested and charged Wednesday with three felonies and one misdemeanor for his alleged role in the escape.
Palmer reportedly told police that he let Sweat into areas behind his cell and gave him access to a catwalk. He also gave Sweat access to an electrical box, but he claims to have believed it was for cooking in the men’s cells. Palmer reportedly said he provided Matt, who is apparently a talented artist, tubes of paint and brushes.
The guard reportedly also admitted to police that he passed along a package of frozen ground beef to the inmates that prison seamstress Joyce Mitchell is accused of using to smuggle hacksaw blades to the men. Mitchell allegedly wanted to help the men for a number of reasons, including a scheme to kill her husband and an alleged sexual relationship with Sweat.
Palmer said he passed the package along May 30, seven days before the two prisoners escaped. Palmer's lawyer, Andrew Brockway, previously said that the guard did not know the package contained tools or that the men were planning to escape.
The escaped inmates have been on the run for more than two weeks, eluding a massive manhunt. Palmer was charged with promoting prison contraband in the 1st Degree, a Class D Felony, two counts of tampering with physical evidence, both class E felonies, and one count of official misconduct, a Class A misdemeanor. He pleaded not guilty Thursday, according to NBC News.