Hunt for N.Y. prisoners cost more than $1 million per day


ALBANY, N.Y.  — Payroll records suggest the hunt for two escaped killers in northern New York cost more than $1 million a day, with overtime alone for state troopers and corrections officers $22 million higher than last year.

State comptroller records obtained Friday by The Associated Press for June and July show overtime totaled $41 million for the corrections department and $17.6 million for state police. That’s roughly twice the amount spent for those months in 2014.

Those two agencies led the 23-day manhunt by more than 1,100 officers for Richard Matt and David Sweat, who escaped June 6 from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora after cutting their way through the metal wall of their cells with hacksaw blades smuggled to them.

State forest rangers, federal authorities and Vermont police also joined the search that ended with Matt shot dead June 27 and Sweat wounded and caught two days later. Parts of the maximum-security prison, where the men also cut through a steam pipe in the basement, required repairs.

The comptroller’s office declined to comment on the overtime data requested under the state’s Freedom of Information Law. It showed state police overtime $10.6 million higher for five pay dates in June and July than last year. The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision overtime was $12.3 million higher.

Corrections and police officials didn’t immediately respond to requests Friday for comment.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who visited the prison and viewed the escape route the day the two convicted killers vanished, had called it a crisis situation for the state with dangerous men on the loose.

Sweat, 35, had been serving life without parole in the killing of a sheriff’s deputy in southern New York near the Pennsylvania state line. Matt, 49, was doing 25 years to life for the kidnapping and hacksaw dismemberment of his former boss in western New York.

“This has been an unprecedented coordination for this manhunt,” Cuomo said while the fugitives were still at large. “And it will continue until we have them back in custody or we have the matter resolved.”

A tailor shop instructor, Joyce Mitchell, who got close to the men, has pleaded guilty to charges that she supplied them with hacksaw blades and other tools.

Prison guard Gene Palmer, who also faces charges, is accused of bringing them tools from Mitchell inside frozen meat. He has said he never knew of their escape plans.