NEW YORK — Inmate David Sweat, who pulled off an elaborate escape from an upstate New York prison in early June, has been indicted on two counts of escape in the third degree and a count of promoting prison contraband, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said Thursday.
A state court judge entered a plea of not guilty for Sweat, who made his first appearance in a Plattsburgh, New York, courtroom with his right arm in a sling. His next court appearance will be on September 29.
Sweat, 35, who is serving a sentence of life without parole, could have an additional 3½ to 7 years added to his prison term, Wylie said. The convicted killer was shot and recaptured on June 28 after 22 days on the run. His breakout partner, Richard Matt, who was also convicted of murder, was shot and killed two days before Sweat was caught.
The convicts sawed their way out of the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora on June 6. They planned to head to Mexico but had to improvise after a prison tailor accused of aiding them failed to show up to give them a ride, officials said.
After his capture, Sweat told authorities that he and Matt were together for days until he decided to go on his own because Matt, who was older, was slowing him down, authorities said.
A New York state trooper captured Sweat near the Canadian border after firing two shots at the fleeing escapee. Sweat was hospitalized for a time before being returned to a state prison.
Matt, 49, was killed when police encountered him near Malone, New York, and fired on him.
Prison worker Joyce Mitchell, who helped Matt and Sweat in their escape, pleaded guilty last month to charges that could bring her up to seven years behind bars. Mitchell, 51, was charged with promoting prison contraband, a felony, and criminal facilitation, a misdemeanor.
In statements she gave to police in early June, Mitchell detailed how she bought and delivered tools to the two men so they could break out of prison. After the jailbreak, Mitchell was supposed to bring them a Jeep, a gun, a GPS unit, money and other materials, but she backed out.
Mitchell also detailed how she was supposed to give her husband two pills to knock him out, and the plan called for one of the escaped inmates to later kill her husband, Mitchell said in her statements to police.
Another prison employee, Gene Palmer, is accused of taking meat that concealed hacksaw blades for Sweat and Matt.
Three members of Clinton Correctional Facility’s executive team, along with nine security staff employees, have been placed on paid administrative leave as part of the review of the escape, according to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
Superintendent Steven Racette and Deputy Superintendent Stephen Brown are among the executives on leave, a state official told CNN. The other is First Deputy Superintendent Donald Quinn, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
The FBI is investigating possible broader corruption at the prison, law enforcement officials briefed on the case told CNN. Agents are looking into whether drug trafficking or other criminal behavior among employees and inmates took place, officials said.