Manhattan Detention Complex (MDC).
Photo: Timothy Clary / AFP / Getty Images
Seven guards and two other employees of the New York Department of Correction (DOC) were charged with smuggling drugs, alcohol, cell phones and weapons in exchange for thousands of dollars, Federal authorities said Wednesday.
The workers named include Tameka Lewis (41), a DOC counselor who allegedly pocketed the most cash. According to the indictment, between June 2019 and September 2020, he accepted more than $ 40,000 in bribes, including $ 11,400 paid through mobile payment service, Cash App.
Lewis allegedly sent text messages to relatives of inmates to establish smuggling synthetic marijuana (K2) at the Otis Bantum Correctional Center in Rikers Island, according to one of the allegations revealed in the Southern District.
Three prison officers – Miguel Compress (35), Temaine Pelzer (45) and Brian Harrell (60) – smuggled various items, including cigarettes, razors, marijuana and cell phones, in the Manhattan Detention Complex (MDC) in exchange for more than $ 20,000 in 2019 through early 2020, according to authorities.
The feds also captured Dariel Díaz, 33, Rashawn Assanah, 25, Robert Balducci, 33, and Johnathan Garrett, 32, all Rikers guards, on charges of accepting more than $ 25,000 for similar smuggling schemes. Additionally, DOC exterminator Jasmine Reed (34) was charged with allegedly infiltrating smuggling.
Each faces federal charges of conspiracy and bribery, according to the New York Post. The three current DOC employees – Harrell, Balducci, and Lewis – were suspended without pay, a department spokesman said.
The feds did not detail whether the alleged schemes were related to each other. “These defendantsthey were responsible for maintaining a safe and orderly environment in New York City jails. “said US Attorney Audrey Strauss. Instead, as alleged, they abused their positions to enrich themselves through the trafficking of arms, drugs and other dangerous contraband in exchange for thousands of dollars in cash bribes ”.
Margaret Garnett, Commissioner of the City Department of Investigations (DOI), commented that the accusations “reflect the pernicious and damaging impact of corruption ”. “Correctional officials and staff must protect the integrity of prisons, not promote lawlessness and violence by accepting bribes in exchange for drug trafficking, scalpels, razors, cell phones and other contraband, all illegal items of great value that they undermine order in the prisons and compromise the safety of other correctional officers and inmates ”.
Outgoing DOC Commissioner Cynthia Brann called the allegations “deeply disturbing.” And added that “This is the kind of misconduct that justifies firing”.