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NYC corrections officers charged for smuggling illegal drugs into Rikers Island, taking bribes

The suspects used coded communications such as describing a picture of marijuana as “nuggets” and an officer willing to bring in drugs as an “Uber,” prosecutors said

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(L-R) Shanequa Washington, Kenneth Webster and former detainee Kristopher Francisco. (Court Documents)

By Graham Rayman
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — Three former correction officers, a contractor and a program counselor were charged in Manhattan Federal Court for smuggling a drug store’s worth of illegal narcotics into two different Rikers Island jails, officials said Tuesday.

Former correction officers Carlos Rivera, Chantal De Los Santos and Stephanie Davila were charged with bringing in oxycodone, fentanyl, K-2 and marijuana in exchange for bribes between December 2021 and February 2022, federal prosecutors said.

Former program counselor Shanequa Washington and ex-contractor Kenneth Webster were accused of involvement in the conspiracy, as was former detainee Kristopher Francisco, currently in state prison.

“Rikers Island is less safe, for inmates and officers alike, when corrections officers and others in positions of public trust accept bribes to smuggle contraband,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Tuesday.

FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith added, “This alleged conspiracy permeated Rikers Island, polluting the integrity of the department and its institutions.”

The suspects used coded communications such as describing a picture of marijuana as “nuggets” and an officer willing to bring in drugs as an “Uber,” prosecutors said. “Sturdy it up” meant package drugs for delivery.

The officers actually communicated with detainees electronically, the complaint states.

At one point, Rivera directed a detainee to cover up the misconduct. “Delete these,” he allegedly wrote. “See u Thursday.”

“Been did I don’t save nun when I send it,” the detainee replied, the complaint shows.

Cell phones and cigarettes were also smuggled. The conspirators arranged their deals using text and social media messages to arrange the exchange of drugs, and they often used phone apps to transfer money, the prosecutors allege.

In the wake of the arrests, the city Department of Investigation proposed moving lockers to a place before officers are screened for contraband and bringing open or unsealed containers into the jails.

The Correction Department said it would review the recommendations.

“There is zero tolerance for anyone – staff or visitors – who attempts to bring contraband and narcotics into our jails,” Correction Commissioner Lynelle Maginley-Liddie said in a statement. “This illegal behavior endangers the lives of people in custody and our staff. The department is working diligently to improve security and prevent contraband from entering its facilities.”

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