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David Sweat apologizes for prison break

David Sweat was sentenced Wednesday morning to three-and-a-half years to seven years in prison for his escape last year from the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora.

“For acts, there are consequences,” Judge Patrick McGill told Sweat as he stood before him in a Clinton County courtroom.

Sweat’s lawyer sought leniency for the June 6 prison break by Sweat that captured the national attention last year. His accomplice, Richard Matt, was killed by police after the two men separated during their time on the lam.

“I would like to apologize to the community,” said Sweat, wearing a dark green prison outfit, a shaved head and eyeglasses.

With his client seated and surrounded by guards, Sweat’s lawyer pleaded for leniency, saying his client took full responsibility by pleading guilty for all three counts lodged against him and that he has cooperated with investigators looking into the breakout.

Sweat’s lawyer also said the convict persuaded Matt not to take hostages during their time on the lam.

“So I would say Mr. Sweat saved some lives,’’ said Joseph Mucia, Sweat’s lawyer.

The judge accepted the district attorney’s urging that Sweat be given the maximum sentence for the escape, which for weeks sent fears through North Country communities and cost the state and localities millions in search expenses.

McGill told Sweat he had spent a life of making one “stupid mistake” after another, including his murder of a Broome County deputy sheriff that resulted in his life prison term. Sweat was shot by a state trooper on June 28 as he walked along a rural road a couple miles from the Canadian border.

Sweat had previously pleaded guilty to three felony counts, including first-degree escape and promotion of prison contraband. The judge this morning also ordered Sweat to repay the state $79,800 for damage done to the prison during the escape.

New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott, whose office has investigated the prison escape, called Sweat a “cold-blooded murderer (who) exploited systematic lapses in Clinton Correctional Facility’s security procedures so he and another could escape last summer, terrorizing New York communities for weeks on end.” She said her office is pressing for prison changes to address what she called “extraordinary failures” in security that made it easier for Sweat and Matt to escape.