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US Jailbreak Puts Prison Chief, 11 Others on Leave

  • Associated Press

FILE - A guard stands on the wall of Clinton Correctional Facility on June 13, 2015, in Dannemora, New York.

FILE - A guard stands on the wall of Clinton Correctional Facility on June 13, 2015, in Dannemora, New York.

Twelve more staffers at the New York prison where two killers escaped three weeks ago have been put on administrative leave, including the prison's superintendent and his deputy in charge of security, officials said Tuesday.

A state official who had been briefed on the matter told The Associated Press that Clinton Correctional Facility Superintendent Steven Racette and Deputy Superintendent Stephen Brown are among those on leave. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said the suspensions are part of the ongoing review of the June 6 escape by convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat. Matt was killed Friday and Sweat wounded and captured Sunday a short run from the Canadian border.

FILE - New York State Police photos show inmates David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt, who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, June 6, 2015.

FILE - New York State Police photos show inmates David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt, who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, June 6, 2015.

Sweat on Monday started talking and sharing details of the breakout, saying he and Matt had planned to go to Mexico but headed toward Canada on foot when their getaway driver didn't show up.

The department did not identify the suspended staff.

Two other staffers, a corrections officer and civilian employee, had been put on leave earlier and now face criminal charges and are accused of helping the escapees.

The additional suspensions come as attention turns to a wide-ranging probe of the maximum-security prison in Dannemora, where Matt and Sweat used power tools to cut holes in their cells and a steam pipe on their way under the walls to a manhole outside.

Soon after the breakout, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott to investigate factors that could have led to the escape.

The inspector general's investigation is separate from the criminal investigation. Any criminal activity uncovered by the inspector general will be referred to prosecutors.

Prosecutors have previously said prison tailor shop employee Joyce Mitchell got close to the men and agreed to be their getaway driver but backed out because she felt guilty.

Mitchell has pleaded not guilty to charges including felony promoting prison contraband.

Corrections officer Gene Palmer is charged with promoting prison contraband, tampering with physical evidence and official misconduct. He waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Monday, clearing the way for potential grand jury action.

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