Former Correction Officers and Rikers Employees Charged With Corruption

Five people who worked at the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City, as well as a detainee there, have been charged with corruption, including smuggling contraband into the jail, according to three complaints unsealed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors said that in 2021 and 2022, several former city correction officers, a Department of Correction employee and an employee of a department contractor accepted bribes to smuggle in cellphones, oxycodone, marijuana, fentanyl and a synthetic drug known as K2.

Their actions made Rikers Island “less safe, for inmates and officers alike,” Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement, adding that the defendants “engaged in corruption for their own enrichment.”

Five of the defendants were arrested on Tuesday; the sixth was already in state custody. Lawyers for the defendants could not immediately be identified.

During the period in which the officers and other employees are accused of smuggling drugs into the jail, visitation had stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the number of overdoses in the city’s jail system had spiked.

In 2021, were 113 overdoses in city jails that required a 911 call — a 55 percent increase from the previous year, according to data from Correctional Health Services, the agency that provides health care to detainees. In 2022, five of the 19 people who died in the jails or soon after release had overdosed on drugs.

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