michael gelman

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Clinton Correctional Facility (CCF) is a maximum security state penitentiary for men, located in the village of Dannemora, Clinton County, New York. Sometimes referred to simply as “Dannemora”, CCF is the largest maximum security prison in the state, with an inmate population of about 3,000, and is the 2nd oldest, having been in continuous operation since 1845. Prior to 2008, CCF housed New York’s death row inmates. New York was the first state to use the electric chair as a primary means of execution over hanging, which had previously been the standard. Between 1892 and 1913, a total of twenty-six men were executed by electric chair at CCF. The last execution to have taken place in New York was that of Eddie Mays, who was electrocuted in 1963 at Sing Sing.

In June of 2015, two inmates escaped from CCF. Richard Matt and David Sweat, who were both serving lengthy sentences for murder, escaped from the facility with the help of two prison employees, who were later charged for aiding an escape. The two men were fugitives for over 20 days before Matt was shot to death by a Vermont border patrol agent in Malone, New York, about an hour away from the prison. Sweat was shot by a New York state trooper two days later, and was taken into custody alive.

Notable inmates at Clinton Correctional Facility have included:

Michael Alig - A figurehead of the “Club Kids” phenomenon in 1990’s New York City, Alig was a club and party promoter who threw wildly successful events at The Limelight, The Paladium, Tunnel, and Club USA. In 1996, Alig and his roommate murdered and dismembered Andre “Angel” Melendez, a drug dealer who had been staying at their apartment, and later disposed of his remains in the Hudson River. Alig later pled guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 10-20 years. He was paroled in 2014. Alig is the subject of the 2003 film Party Monster, starring Macauley Culkin.

Maksim Gelman - In February of 2011 in New York City, Gelman killed four people and injured three over a period of 28 hours. His victims included his stepfather - Aleksandr Kuznetsov, Yelena Bulchenko - a former friend, and Anna Bulchenko, Yelena’s mother, who refused to tell Maksim where her daughter was, even to save her own life. Stephen Tanenbaum, (62) was run over in the street as Gelman fled the scene, and he later died of his injuries. At least five others were injured during Gelman’s crime spree, all of them simply innocent bystanders who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Gelman was profiled in an episode of A&E’s, The Killer Speaks, which you can watch {here}

Julio Gonzalez - Perpetrator of the 1990 arson of a social club in the Bronx, referred to as “The Happy Land Fire”, which killed 87 people. Gonzalez had recently been dumped by his girlfriend, Lydia Feliciano, who worked at Happy Land as a coat check girl. On March 25th, Happy Land was packed with customers, most of them Hondurans celebrating Carnival. Gonzalez was kicked out of the club by a bouncer, and was heard drunkenly shouting in the street that he would “shut the place down”. He walked to a nearby gas station, bought $1 worth of gas in a can, went back to Happy Land and sprayed the stairs - which were the only entrance and exit to the club - with gasoline, and lit a match. After setting the fire, Gonzalez went back home and went to bed, and was arrested the next day. He was sentenced to 25 years to life, and was denied parole in 2015. He died of a heart attack in September of 2016, two months before he would have been given another parole hearing.

John Jamelske - A serial rapist and kidnapper, Jamelske abducted at least five women between 1988 and 2003, and kept them prisoner in a concrete bunker underneath his home in the suburbs of Syracuse, New York, forcing them to perform sexual acts and menial tasks for him. He released his victims after long periods of time, some of whom attempted to report their abduction to the authorities, but weren’t taken seriously by law enforcement. Jamelske targeted women who were immigrants or refugees and didn’t know the language, or women who struggled with drug addiction. Jamelske’s first victim walked out of his bunker and never attempted to contact the authorities. His final victim was able to sneak away for long enough to call her sister, who was able to track her down. Jamelske was sentenced to 18 years to life, and is serving time at CCF.

Joel Rifkin - A serial killer suspected to be responsible for murdering and dismembering up to 17 women, many of whom were prostitutes. Rifkin was sentenced to 203 years in prison and will be eligible for parole in February of 2197.

Altemio Sanchez - Known as “The Bike Path Rapist” and “The Bike Path Killer”, Sanchez raped and murdered at least four women, and raped at least 9-15 women over the course of 25 years in Buffalo, New York. Most of his crimes took place in secluded areas near Amtrak rails or secluded bike paths. Prior to Sanchez’s arrest, a man named Anthony Capozzi had been serving time at CCF after being wrongfully convicted of two rapes that Sanchez had committed. Capozzi, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, served 22 years in prison before being exonerated by DNA evidence.