Former prison guard admits to unwittingly helping Matt, Sweat escape northern NY facility

Gene Palmer
Suspended correction officer Gene Palmer, right, accused of inadvertently helping two killers escape from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., with his lawyer William Dreyer, waived his right to have his case heard by a grand jury and pleaded not guilty to charges Wednesday Nov. 4, 2015 in Clinton County Court in Plattsburgh. Palmer now faces a felony charge in connection with hamburger containing hacksaw blades that he allegedly delivered to an inmate that escaped from Clinton Correctional a few days later. (Rob Fountain/Press-Republican via AP)

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — A former guard has admitted he unwittingly helped two killers escape from a northern New York prison by smuggling in tools.

Gene Palmer pleaded guilty in court on Monday to a felony count of smuggling in needle-nose pliers and a screwdriver and two misdemeanor counts related to prison contraband and official misconduct. A judge sentenced him to six month in jail and about $5,000 in penalties.

Palmer also resigned his $74,644-a-year job.

Palmer admitted providing inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat with tools and access to a catwalk electrical box at Clinton Correctional Facility. He was accused of giving them hamburger meat that had hacksaw blades hidden inside. His lawyer says he didn’t know what was in the meat.

Matt was shot and killed. Sweat was wounded and caught.

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