A career criminal who killed a New York state trooper and wounded two others after he escaped from prison in 2006 has been accused of possessing "escape paraphernalia" at the prison where he's serving a life sentence for the slaying.
State Department of Correctional Services officials said Ralph "Bucky" Phillips was charged with violating prison regulations Monday after a search of his cell in a special housing unit turned up items prohibited at the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility in northern New York.
Peter Cutler, the prison system's spokesman, confirmed Wednesday that officials are conducting an investigation into Phillips' latest of many prison violations since being transferred to Clinton in Dannemora, near the Canadian border.
Cutler said the exact nature of what guards found in the cell isn't being released while the investigation is continuing. Earlier, he told the Star-Gazette of Elmira that it was rumored Phillips was "in possession of escape paraphernalia."
The Buffalo News reported that a law enforcement union official told the newspaper Phillips had stuffed a sweatshirt with other clothes to make it look like a dummy. The newspaper said the official spoke on condition of not being named.
Phillips shot and wounded two troopers and fatally wounded a third after he escaped from a Buffalo-area jail in 2006. He spent five months on the run before being captured in western Pennsylvania.
Phillips is being held in a special housing unit at Clinton state prison, where he arrived in December 2006 after pleading guilty to shooting a state trooper to death and wounding two others during the five months he was on the lam following his escape from a Buffalo-area jail.
To make that escape in April 2006, Phillips cut his way through a ceiling at the Erie County jail in Alden, outside Buffalo. He eventually surrendered to police that September after being cornered in a Pennsylvania field near the New York border.
He was sentenced to life without parole after pleading guilty to aggravated murder and two charges of attempted murder.
At Clinton, Phillips spends 23 of 24 hours inside his cell in what Cutler described as a "prison within a prison." State corrections officials said his disciplinary record while at Clinton includes 29 previous violations ranging from "unhygienic acts" to "threats" against staff.
An "unhygienic act" is defined as spitting or throwing bodily fluids.