PLATTSBURGH — David Sweat has told authorities in the Albany area that Gene Palmer was not involved in the actual escape from Clinton Correctional Facility, the DA says.

Palmer, who has been suspended without pay from his job as correction officer at the Dannemora prison, appeared in Plattsburgh Town Court before Town Justice Kevin Patnode on Monday afternoon.

Attorney William Dreyer waived his client's preliminary hearing, and the case was bumped up to Clinton County Court.

Dreyer reserved the right to have the charges against Palmer presented to a grand jury for further action.

Palmer, dressed in a gray suit, didn't speak during the hearing or as he was escorted from the court by members of his defense team.

He was driven from the Town Hall property in a grey Lexus RX350.

Palmer continues to be free on $25,000 bail, $50,000 bond pending further court action.


Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said if the case needs to go to the grand jury, he would wait for the State Police to complete their investigation.

And he would also give the defense team time to go over the statements Palmer has made to authorities, both of which could take three to four weeks at a minimum.

Palmer has been a correction officer at Clinton Correctional for 27 years, including the last eight years on the honor block from which the inmates escaped.

He is charged with official misconduct, a misdemeanor, for accepting paintings made by inmate Richard Matt, who also escaped and was shot and killed on Friday; two counts of felony tampering with evidence, for trying to destroy the artwork after the escape; and felony promoting prison contraband, for giving them a pair of pliers, a screwdriver, two tubes of paint and paint brushes.


Palmer was placed on administrative leave, with pay, from his $72,644 a year job on June 19. He was questioned by State Police for about 14 hours on June 20.

The CO was charged on June 24, after which his suspension status was changed to without pay.

He faces a maximum sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years on the tampering charges and 2 1/3 to 7 years on the contraband charge.

The correction officer is not charged in connection with Sweat and Matt's escape, though he admitted to police he delivered a package of ground beef to Matt at the behest of Joyce Mitchell, who does face such charges.

Palmer says he didn't know hacksaw blades were inside the frozen meat and passed a lie-detector test on that point.

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