Prison worker charged in Columbia County inmate escape pleads not guilty

PORTAGE, Wis. — The prison worker charged with helping two inmates escape from Columbia Correctional Institution back in April has pleaded not guilty.

Holly Zimdahl, 46, faces three felony charges in the case: two counts of party to escape and delivering illegal articles to an inmate.

Zimdahl was a civilian working in the prison kitchen when she helped James Newman and Thomas Deering escape.

Detectives found two cell phones, $1,400 in cash and a handwritten note about where to buy electric fence cutters during a search of her car.

Zimdahl claims she cooperated because she and her daughter were threatened.

A trial date has not been set yet.