NYC COs charged with smuggling drugs, phones to gang members at Rikers Island
One of the officers received more than $30,000 in a meticulous smuggling scheme, investigators say
By Noah Goldberg
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — Two city correction officers smuggled contraband cellphones and drugs like K2 and marijuana to Bloods gang members on Rikers Island in exchange for thousands of dollars in bribes, federal prosecutors said.
Krystle Burrell, 35, and Katrina Patterson, 31, were arrested Tuesday in separate schemes that involved different Rikers jails, the feds said.
Between October 2020 and March 2021, prosecutors said, Patterson meticulously planned dropoffs of contraband and received more than $30,000 from Imani Matthews, 25, and Ashley Medina, 24, two girlfriends of Michael Ross, who was being held at Rikers on criminal weapon possession charges.
In one instance, Patterson snuck in to Ross what she said were “4 black joints in 1 paper,” insisting to Matthews that “it better be wrapped so many times I don’t want to smell it,” prosecutors said.
On Nov. 10, 2020, investigators discovered nearly 50 grams of marijuana in Ross’ cell at the Robert N. Davoren Center on Rikers as well as a contraband cell phone, the feds said. Ross was sent to solitary confinement, while Patterson was sent into a panic.
“Call me I gotta see you asap did he destroy the phone they found the phone and mad weed... they have the phone I hope he deleted everything,” Patterson wrote in a message to Medina.
Just 15 days after the bust in Ross’ cell, Patterson was itching to get back to her side-gig smuggling contraband, prosecutors said.
“Tell him tomorrow if he ready to get back to business let me know,” she wrote to Matthews in a text message on Nov. 25.
Matthews and Medina paid Patterson through CashApp, and Patterson was caught on video smuggling in bags of what prosecutors say was narcotics to inmates associated with Ross, the feds said.
Burrell was more obvious in her 2021 smuggling scheme to Terrae Hinds, 28, another Bloods gang member, prosecutors said. The six-year veteran of the Department of Correction smuggled Hinds two cellphones — one of which once belonged to her, the feds allege.
Burrell is also accused of helping Hinds distribute narcotics while he was jailed at the Anna M. Kross Center.
When Burrell was interviewed by investigators, she eventually admitted to smuggling Hinds a phone — but said she did so only when she was threatened with a weapon, prosecutors said.
Matthews, Medina, Ross and Hinds are also charged with bribery conspiracy in the case. All six defendants face up to five years in prison.
In a statement, city Correction Commissioner Louis Molina called the allegations against Patterson and Burrell “disturbing,” and noted that smuggling contraband is illegal and “puts everyone in our facilities at risk.”
“If these officers are found guilty they will be terminated and their shield numbers will never be worn again,” Molina said.
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