Captured inmate pleads guilty to daring New York prison escape

Convicted killer used hacksaw blades hidden in frozen hamburger to break out of prison

A convicted killer on Friday pleaded guilty to escape charges after using hacksaw blades hidden in frozen hamburger to break out of an upstate New York prison, triggering a massive three-week manhunt.

David Sweat (35) pleaded guilty to two counts of escape and a single count of promoting prison contraband in the June 6th breakout from Clinton Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in Dannemora, New York.

Appearing in court in a green prison jumpsuit and his wrists handcuffed, Sweat was asked by Judge Patrick McGill if he understood the charges against him. “Yes, your honor,” he said in a quiet voice.

Clinton County district attorney Andrew Wylie reminded Sweat of the “Son of Sam” law which would enable New York state to seize any proceeds he earned from recounting the sensational crime in a book, movie, television show or other depiction.


Sweat was shot and captured on June 28th about two miles from the border with Canada. Days earlier an inmate who escaped with him, Richard Matt (49), was shot and killed by a federal agent.

The pair had broken through their cell walls and cut into and out of a steam pipe to make their escape through a manhole on to the streets of the sleepy upstate New York town.

At the time Sweat was serving a life sentence for killing a law enforcement officer after a robbery.

He is now being held at the Five Points Correctional Facility in Romulus, New York, built to house the state’s toughest inmates, and will be in solitary confinement for seven years, said his lawyer Joseph Mucia.

At his February 3th sentencing prosecutors will ask the judge to order Sweat to pay a yet undetermined portion of the $79,841 in damages from the break-out.

Two Clinton Correctional employees were charged in connection with the escape.

Training supervisor Joyce Mitchell (51) was sentenced to two to seven years in prison after admitting to supplying the men with the break-out tools. She also was ordered to shoulder a yet to be determined portion of the repair costs.

Correctional officer Gene Palmer (57) has pleaded not guilty to charges, including an accusation that he helped Matt and Sweat get behind prison walls to hide contraband.

At least a dozen Clinton personnel were placed on administrative leave following the escape. The prison’s superintendent, Steven Racette, retired on July 31st.