Gene Palmer, Arrested Guard From New York Prison, Tells Police He Helped Inmates

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By Tom Winter and Stephanie Gosk

A guard at the New York prison where two killers escaped told police that he granted the men special access outside their cells and gave them supplies — but he said he never thought they would escape.

The guard, Gene Palmer, told police in a statement that he helped the inmates, Richard Matt and David Sweat, because Matt gave him “elaborate paintings” and information on illegal acts by other inmates.

The statement was obtained Thursday by NBC News. Palmer was arrested Wednesday and charged with promoting prison contraband, evidence tampering and official misconduct.

In the statement, Palmer told the New York State Police and the FBI that he allowed Sweat access to the catwalk and areas behind his cell.

A New York State Police officer escorts suspended Clinton Correctional Facility guard Gene Palmer, left, from Plattsburgh Town Court in Plattsburgh, N.Y., Wednesday, June 24, 2015.Rob Fountain/Staff Photo / AP

He said he also allowed Sweat access to an electrical box but said he thought it was to allow the men to “enhance the ability to cook in their cells.”

Palmer also said he provided Matt with tubes of paint — the colors were white zinc and white titanium — and brushes.

He also admitted passing along the package of ground beef that prison seamstress Joyce Mitchell is accused of using to smuggle tools to the two men. Palmer’s lawyer has said Palmer did not know there was contraband in the package.

Palmer admitted passing it along on May 30, seven days before the men were noticed missing. Mitchell was arrested earlier and has pleaded not guilty.

Erin McClam contributed.