NEWS

New York prison escape investigators arrest corrections officer

06/24/2015 10:00 EDT | Updated 06/24/2016 05:59 EDT
A second employee of the New York prison at the centre of a brazen escape by two convicted murderers has been arrested and charged in connection with the case, media reports say.

Gene Palmer, a corrections officer at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., has been arrested and charged with "promoting dangerous prison contraband," according to a CNN report.

Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped on June 6, sparking a massive manhunt around the prison and in the surrounding communities, woods and fields using helicopters and extra police forces on the ground. The public has provided thousands of tips, but the convicted killers remain on the loose.

The pair are said to have used power tools to cut their way out of their cells, before making their way to a tunnel that led them to a manhole outside the prison walls.

Palmer's arrest follows the arrest of Joyce Mitchell, who worked in the prison tailor shop and is accused of helping the pair orchestrate their escape. Mitchell, 51, has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her. 

Authorities have accused Mitchell, among other things, of packing tools into shipments of frozen hamburger meat that were brought into the prison

Palmer, who had already been suspended from his job, is accused of moving that frozen meat to the prisoners' cell area, CNN and CBS reported. His lawyer told a CBS affiliate that Palmer has worked at the facility for 28 years. 

The prison is located about 30 kilometres south of the Canadian border. 

Sweat and Matt were added to the U.S. Marshal Service's list of most wanted fugitives last week. Sweat was convicted of murder in the killing of a New York state sheriff's deputy in 2002, and Matt was in prison for the killing and dismembering of his former boss in 1997.

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