Six current and former correction officers, along with 15 other people, have been charged with conspiring to bring marijuana and other contraband into Rikers Island facilities, the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District said.
The scheme also involved five inmates and visitors, who arranged for the marijuana and some synthetic cannabinoid to be snuck into the George R. Vierno Center and the Otis Bantum Correctional Center on Rikers by bribing the COs to the tune of thousands of dollars, Federal officials said.
According to the criminal complaints, unsealed in Brooklyn Federal Court Jan. 14, visitors to the jails were instructed to bring “books,” “magazines” and “sandwiches”—code words for the contraband—and to arrange payments to the guards, who would then pass on the marijuana and other goods to inmates within rolls of toilet paper or in garbage cans.
The correction officers named in the Federal complaint were Darrington James, 30, who left the DOC in December; Patrick Legerme, 29; and Aldrin Livingston, 31, all of Queens; Michael Murray, 28, and Christopher Walker, 28, who left DOC in July of last year, both of Brooklyn; and Angel Rodriguez, 23, of Bellport, L.I.
The FBI and city Department of Investigation have been looking into suspected contraband rings involving DOC officers for about a year, a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
As part of their investigation, law-enforcement officials listened to recorded phone calls, reviewed financial records tied to online money transfer tools and conducted surveillance.
Threat to Other Officers
In a statement accompanying the complaint, the FBI’s Assistant Director-in-Charge, William Sweeney, said the alleged conduct by the CO’s “has the potential to harm” other officers as well as inmates.
“The smuggling of contraband into our jails is a common Hollywood storyline, but while there’s an element a fiction in many a screenplay, there’s nothing fake about this real-life threat to our correctional facilities,” he said.
If convicted, the defendants face maximum sentences of five years in prison.
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