Correction officer says he was duped by another prison worker

DANNEMORA, N.Y. (WIVB)- Another day on the run, another possible puzzle piece.

Did escaped killers David Sweat and Richard Matt have inside help from another prison worker?

“I think it’s fair to say that it caught him by surprise,” said Attorney Andrew Brockway of his client, Gene Palmer.

The 57-year-old Corrections Officer was arrested Wednesday after being suspended with pay from his job at the Clinton Correctional Facility, and questioned about the June 6 escape of the inmates.

But Brockway said his client was duped by fellow prison worker, Joyce Mitchell.

“I think that she had an affinity for them and they asked her to do things that she did, and she conned people into doing it for her,” he said.

According to Clinton County’s District Attorney, Mitchell put screwdriver bits and hacksaw blades, which the inmates used to break out, into frozen hamburger meat.

Brockway said Palmer then unknowingly, delivered it to the inmates’ cell area; Mitchell didn’t have direct access to their cells.

“Mr. Palmer did not know that Joyce Mitchell had conned him into giving contraband to these two individuals,” Brockway said.

During their escape, the inmates used catwalks.

According to officials, Palmer supervised the inmates doing electrical work in the catwalk behind their cell.

Palmer allegedly gave them a screwdriver and wrench, but told investigators he took the tools back after the work was completed.

Palmer also allegedly received paintings from the two inmates, which is against prison protocol. According to court document, he then destroyed or attempted to destroy the paintings.

Palmer is now facing four charges, including Promoting Prison Contraband, two counts of Tampering with Evidence, and Official Misconduct. According to New York State Police, he pleaded not guilty to all charges Wednesday night, and was released after posting $25,000 bail.

Mitchell, who pleaded not guilty to her charges of Promoting Prison Contraband and Criminal Facilitation, remains in custody.

Palmer is changing counsel, and is set to appear back in court Monday afternoon.

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