The angry wife of the ousted Clinton Correctional Facility warden said Gov. Cuomo has made her husband and his right-hand men scapegoats for the daring prison break by two killers.
Superintendent Steven Racette’s spouse went off after the Department of Corrections announced he had been placed on administrative leave.
Also shelved were Deputy Superintendent for Security Stephen Brown, First Deputy Superintendent Donald Quinn, and nine correction officers, according to sources and the DOC.
James O’Gorman, the DOC’s Assistant Commissioner for Correctional Facilities, will take over for Racette “as the new leadership team transitions this week,” according to a DOC statement.
“My husband has had a stellar career,” Cherie Racette told The Daily News. “He’s worked for 37 ½ years. This is definitely a governor choice. He’s definitely looking for a scapegoat and he found three of them.”
Cherie Racette said the successful escape by Richard Matt and David Sweat was an “inside job” and her husband is not to blame.
“Everybody is trying to figure out how it happened and how it could have been stopped,” she said. “The fact of the matter is it happened.”
Racette was put on ice two days after Sweat was captured after 23 days on the lam. Matt was killed on Friday.
The reshuffling came a day after it was revealed that the FBI had launched an investigation into a possible heroin ring at the prison.
Cherie Racette said her husband was “very happy” running the Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone, N.Y., when Team Cuomo tapped him last year to be the warden in Clinton. She said he had no idea the FBI was investigating when he took the job, which has a $132,040 salary.
“Donnie Quinn was also asked to come to Clinton a year and a half ago with my husband — and this is how they repay them both,” she said.
There was no immediate response from Cuomo. But on Monday he downplayed any failure at the prison Matt and Sweat busted out of June 6.
“It’s clearly not a facility that is highly problematic,” he said. “I would take the record of one escape every 100 years if we could get that guarantee right now. But one escape is one too many and I want to find out what happened and make sure we’re doing everything we can to make sure it never happens again.”
Sweat, 35, was captured Sunday near the Canadian border after 23 days on the lam. He is recuperating from being shot twice in the torso and is in serious condition at the Albany Medical Center.
Matt, 49, was killed Friday.
And so far, two prison workers — seamstress Joyce Mitchell and veteran CO Gene Palmer — have been charged with supplying the convicted killers with the tools they used to stage their “Shawshank Redemption”-style breakout from the forbidding prison in Dannemora, N.Y.
Cuomo said the escapees’ original plan was to try to make it to Mexico and that Mitchell was supposed to drive them there. But they were forced to hoof it after Mitchell got cold feet and failed to show up with the getaway Jeep.
Sweat, who was serving a life sentence for killing a sheriff’s deputy, told investigators that Palmer, 57, had nothing to do with the escape.
Five days before he was captured, Sweat ditched Matt because he believed the older inmate was slowing him down, Cuomo said.
Matt was serving 25 years to life for killing and dismembering a former boss.
Mitchell, 51, admitted she had sex with both of the prisoners – under the nose of her husband Lyle, who also works at the prison.