NYC prison guards took bribes, smuggled contraband to inmates

Two New York City corrections officers pleaded guilty in federal court to accepting bribes in return for smuggling cell phones and drugs to inmates inside the Rikers Island jail facility, the US attorney in New York’s Eastern District announced.

The now former guards, Katrina Patterson,31, and Krystle Burrell,35, both pleaded guilty to accepting $34,000 and close to $10,000, respectively, to smuggle contraband to inmates.

“The defendants threw in their lot with Bloods gang members and betrayed their sworn duty to maintain the safety of incarcerated individuals and other correction officers at Rikers Island by smuggling cell phones and drugs into the jail,” US Attorney Breon Peace said in a news release .

Patterson accepted bribes from individuals on behalf of inmate, and co-defendant in the case, Michael Ross. Prison staff found cell phones and narcotics in Ross’ cell, and officials recovered text messages between Patterson and an individual who described the contraband as “4 black joints in 1 paper,” to which Patterson responded, “it better be wrapped so many times I don’t want to smell it,” according to the Department of Justice’s news release.

This March 16, 2011 file photo shows a barbed wire fence outside inmate housing on New York's Rikers Island correctional facility in New York.

On top of accepting a total $9,780 bribe and smuggling contraband for inmate Terrae Hinds, Burrell also facilitated Hinds’ sale of drugs and other banned items inside the jail, according to the DOJ’s news release.

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The guards were fired from their positions, according to the news release. Burrell faces up to 10 years in prison while Patterson faces up to five years. Ross pleaded guilty for his role in the bribery scheme and awaits sentencing. Hinds’ charges are still pending.

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