New York Jail Authorities Thwart Escape Plan Involving 64 Bedsheets

News ID: 775136 Service: Other Media
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TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Investigators sweeping a New York jail after breaking up a drug smuggling ring uncovered 64 neatly tied-together bed-sheets, enough for the inmate responsible to shimmy down 11 stories from his cell-block to the street, said city officials.

Ernest Murphy, awaiting trial on an attempted murder charge, had the sheets stashed under a sink in his cell at the Manhattan detention center, said Mark Peters, commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation. The coil stretched the length of a gymnasium nearly four times.

“Thankfully, it was discovered before he had an opportunity to test his skills at making a getaway,” Peters said. “And so the city was spared the potential spectacle of joining the state for the past two weeks in a manhunt for escaped inmates.”

Peters was referring to the massive search for convicted murderers David Sweat and Richard Matt, who authorities believe used power tools smuggled in by a worker to escape from the Clinton maximum-security prison in Dannemora, the Guardian reported.

Murphy, jailed for allegedly taking part in a gang assault where a man was slashed and shot, was arrested on 11 May on a new charge of promoting prison contraband. He didn’t confess to an escape attempt but authorities said there was no other logical reason for the sheets. A message left with his lawyer wasn’t immediately returned.

The Peters and Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R Vance Jr, said the arrest had come after a months-long investigation into contraband smuggled inside and out of the jail. The facility is located next door to Manhattan criminal court and used mostly for holding prisoners ahead of court dates.

An undercover officer posed as an inmate wanting to smuggle contraband during that investigation. The operation also included wiretaps.

“We have all witnessed in recent weeks the serious consequences that can result when contraband is smuggled inside prison walls,” Vance said.

A city correction officer, Patricia Howard, 44, was arrested on 9 May on a Harlem street in her uniform, holding a bag of contraband that included drugs, lighters and flashlights, and $800 — her cut of the operation, officials said. She is awaiting arraignment and it is not immediately clear who represents her.

Howard, a correction officer for nearly 20 years, had made more than 2,400 calls to inmates and even received a thank-you note from one inmate for supporting “the jail shopping network”, said investigators.

Police allege Howard delivered the contraband to inmate Tommy Davis, who would then disseminate it to other inmates in the jail.

Davis used his sister and niece to get the orders filled outside the jail, authorities said. The four were charged with crimes including promoting prison contraband, attempted sale of a controlled substance and bribery.

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