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Cuomo Orders Investigation Into Prison Breakout

With the search for two convicted murderers who escaped from the prison in Dannemora, New York continuing for a 10th day, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is ordering an investigation into the breakout. Cuomo announced Monday he has directed Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott to conduct an investigation into the escape of inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat. The inmates escaped more than a week ago and remain on the loose. Prison worker Joyce Mitchell, who police say helped in the escape, was due back in court this morning. 

Press Release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott to conduct a thorough investigation to determine all factors potentially involved in the escape of inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat from Clinton Correctional Facility. At the Governor's instruction, the Inspector General shall obtain the services of a respected outside expert in corrections and law enforcement on issues such as prison design, operations and security with a view toward identifying how these inmates were able to escape, and recommend any potential reforms and best practices to prevent future incidents. The Inspector General and expert shall confer with law enforcement to ensure this investigation has no impact on the active manhunt or criminal investigation and prosecution, and the Inspector General shall refer any criminal conduct that may be uncovered to prosecutors.

"Capturing these killers and returning them to state custody remains our top priority – however, it's critically important to examine the circumstances that enabled these inmates to escape in the first place," Governor Cuomo said. "Today I am directing the Inspector General to initiate an investigation into the facts surrounding this case, and report back on what steps need to be taken to help ensure this situation is not repeated. We have zero tolerance for anyone who aided or abetted these criminals, no matter how minor their role. Make no mistake: any individual found to have assisted in this escape will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

The New York State Inspector General has the authority to receive and investigate complaints from any source, or initiate an investigation concerning allegations of corruption, fraud, criminal activity, conflicts of interest or abuse in any covered agency. She can determine whether disciplinary action, civil or criminal prosecution, or further investigation by an appropriate agency is warranted, and to assist in such investigations and publish reports of such investigations, as appropriate and to the extent permitted by law. Specifically, the State Inspector General has the power to subpoena and enforce the attendance of witnesses; administer oaths or affirmations and examine witnesses under oath; require the production of any books and papers deemed relevant or material to any investigation; examine and copy or remove documents or records of any kind prepared, maintained or held by any covered agency; require any officer or employee in a covered agency to answer questions related to the performance of his or her official duties. Any criminal activity uncovered by the State Inspector General will be referred for prosecution to the full extent of the law.

Update on Search

As of Monday, more than 800 law enforcement officers from state, local and federal agencies are assisting in this search for escaped Clinton Correctional Facility inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat. Officers and Forest Rangers from the Department of Environmental Conservation, as well as officers from the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, FBI, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Clinton and Essex County Sheriff Departments and the Plattsburgh Police Department are all providing assistance in the search. All available assets are being deployed around the clock, including K9 and aviation units. More than 900 leads have been developed at this point in the investigation.

The public should not hesitate to report any suspicious activity; that includes any sign of a trespass, burglary or vehicle larceny. Contact 911, your local law enforcement agency, or the New York State Police to report any information related to this investigation at (518) 563-3761 or 1-800-GIVETIP. Tips can also be sent by email to crimetip@troopers.ny.gov. A $100,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest of the escaped inmates.

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