By Pete DeMalo
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (Reuters) - The prison worker who helped two convicted killers break out of an upstate New York prison was due in court on Friday morning for a hearing on how much restitution she will pay for repairs to broken cell walls and a steam pipe cut open by the escapees.
Joyce Mitchell, 51, was sentenced to two and a third to seven years in state prison in September after pleading guilty for her role in the daring break-out last summer.
The prison instructor admitted to providing the inmates, Richard Matt and David Sweat, blades and other tools hidden in frozen hamburger meat she brought to them inside Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, about 25 miles from the Canadian border.
The state inspector general’s office estimated the cost of repairs at $121,000, according to Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie.
At her sentencing, Mitchell’s attorney, Steven Johnston, said Mitchell could not repay that amount. He said restitution costs were not part of her plea agreement with prosecutors. He also said case law capped the amount she would have to pay at $15,000.
While Mitchell and her husband both held prison jobs that paid $57,697 a year, she meets the qualifications for taxpayers to cover her legal bills.
After a three-week manhunt through the Adirondack Mountains, Matt, 49, was fatally shot by a federal agent on June 26 about 27 miles from the prison. Sweat, 35, was captured two days later about 2 miles from the Canadian border.
Sweat, who is currently being housed at Five Points Correctional Facility in Broome County, was arraigned in August on felony charges of escape and promoting prison contraband for possession of the blades. He pleaded not guilty, and is scheduled to appear for his restitution hearing on Nov. 13.
(Editing by Frank McGurty and James Dalgleish)