Now-Infamous NY Prison Being Probed by FBI for Drug Ring

By McCarton Ackerman 07/01/15

Clinton Correctional Facility has bigger headaches than Richard Matt and David Sweat.

Clinton Correctional Facility
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The escape and eventual capture of notorious prison escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat isn’t the only scandal plaguing the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY. The FBI is now reportedly probing the prison for a drug smuggling ring.

Anonymous sources told the New York Post that “agents are re-interviewing inmates and prison workers” about heroin use among prisoners at the facility and the role of staff members in this drug trade. Although the inmates and prison staff had already been interviewed by state investigators, the insiders said it’s likely they “did not ask pertinent questions regarding the drug trafficking that the FBI is currently asking.”

Twelve workers at the prison, including three executive officials and nine security staff, have been placed on administrative leave from the prison while the investigation continues. The investigation was originally to gather information about the escape by Sweat and Matt, but turned to smuggling based on findings by state investigators.

Matt was shot and killed by police on June 26, while Sweat was shot and captured on June 28. Officials reported a smell of alcohol on Matt’s body, while Sweat later told authorities that Matt eagerly consumed marijuana at one of the abandoned cabins where they hid.

In similar cases of drug smuggling at correctional facilities throughout the country, some prison guards have reported facilitating this activity as a means of boosting their often meager salaries.

Gary Heyward, a former corrections officer at New York’s Riker Island in 1996, said he sold a pack of cigarettes to one inmate for $300 as a way of supplementing his $28,000 annual salary. Eventually, he sold a half ounce of cocaine to inmates for up to $1,500.

Heyward was eventually turned in by an inmate and caught on tape. During his two-year prison sentence, he wrote the self-published memoir, Corruption Officer: From Jail Guard to Perpetrator Insider Riker’s Island.

“A lot of people will look at what’s going on in New York—that Joyce [Mitchell] lady—and wonder why,” he said. “People do what they do for different reasons. It’s just people being human, letting that thing that’s most weak in them get the better of them.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.