Sources Say Dannemora Correction Officer Placed on Leave Is Being Scapegoated

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Multiple sources familiar with the operation of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York tell Breitbart News the correction officer who was placed on leave late Friday by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) is being offered up as a scapegoat for managerial failures of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration.

The correction officer, who has been identified by name to Breitbart News by sources, has worked for more than two decades at the Clinton County Correctional Facility. The DOCCS did not respond to our request to confirm the identity of the correction officer placed on leave.

But someone, presumably at the DOCCS, speaking on the condition of anonymity, provided information to the New York Times late Friday about the probe:

A person who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing inquiry, said investigators were focused on as many as four corrections officers who either had switched their posts in the months before the escape or had often been seen at night around the cellblock where the two men were housed. Among other documents, the officers’ bank and phone records were being examined.

Convicted killers Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 35, broke out of the Clinton Correctional Facility late on the evening of Friday, June 5. The two convicts cut through the walls of their cells, broke down a brick wall, cut through steel steam pipes, and emerged from a manhole at the intersection of Barker St. and Bouck St. in Dannemora after cutting through padlocks on the manhole cover.

Joyce Mitchell, a 51-year-old civilian worker at the prison was arrested on Friday, June 12 and charged with helping the prisoners escape by providing them with contraband– screwdrivers, drill bits, and hacksaw blades.

The officer in question is represented by the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA), which represents 26,000 employees in the state of New York.

Breitbart News contacted the NYSCOPBA for comment but received no response.

“I have been reading about a security staff person placed on administrative leave, the first of very few steps toward an undesirable outcome,” a retired senior counselor at the Clinton County Facility in Dannemora said on Saturday.

“As we very well know from past experiences, the system will never admit to its own wrong doings, even when it can be proven wrong with their own directives. It will most definitely use those who can least defend themselves, as the root of wrong doing, whether it is the line staff or those assigned to supervise such staff (failure to supervise), there will always be someone who will take the fall because those administrators have a right to administer (wrongly) as in this case.”

The retired counselor was uncertain how vigorously the officer placed on leave, and the others under investigation, will be defended by NYSCOBA.

“I certainly hope that all that money NYSCOBA spends on political action committees will eventually spend those dues where it will counts and defend those requiring defending and not write them off as casualties of political fallout,” the retired counselor said.

One source confirms to Breitbart News that the officer placed on administrative leave “was working the honor block – the night Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped.”

Another source tells Breitbart News that the officer placed on administrative leave had supported a request by Sweat and Matt to be placed in adjacent cells some time prior to their escape.

Such a move, if taken on its merits, was not out of the ordinary, the source tells Breitbart News, even though in retrospect it appears to have been a very bad decision.

“Inmates often ask to be moved to different cells. Sometimes they say the inmate in the cell next to them smells bad. Sometimes they say they want to be next to the fellow inmate they play checkers or chess with,” the source tells Breitbart News.

However, another source tells Breitbart News that the investigation has revealed information about the correction officer and one of the escaped convicts that, while not directly related to the June 5 prison breakout, may have constituted a violation of facility policies that prohibit exchanges of goods and financial dealings between correction officers and inmates.

If that information is verified, it could spell trouble for the correction officer.

But sources tell Breitbart News that the broader questions of failures that led to the brazen escape point towards Albany.

“Blame will never go where it should go, to Albany at the DOCCS the way they’ve relaxed the rules for inmates to avoid lawsuits. They’ve capitulated to the inmates and now are blaming the correctional officers for this failure of the system they created,” another source tells Breitbart News.

“Here’s how it will work. They will target the line officers. Then they will target the supervisors. Then they will target the higher staff at the facility. They will never blame the DOCCS or Governor Cuomo, who are the ones responsible for the failure of the system,” the source says.


The New York Times has identified Gene Palmer as the correction officer placed on leave Friday. Breitbart News can confirm that Gene Palmer was also identified by our sources as the correction officer placed on leave Friday.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.