By Naeisha Rose
Three correction officers who worked at Queens Detention Facility in Jamaica were arrested for allegedly smuggling contraband to at least nine inmates and accepting bribes of over $4,725 through wire transfers and cash from 2016-17, according to the United States Attorney’s Office of the Southern District.
Saquan Williams, Jabar Allen and Shawn Pettigrew were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and to introduce contraband into prison, a crime that comes with a five-year prison term.
They were also charged with bribery, which carries a 15-year prison term, according to the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.
The correction officers allegedly trafficked marijuana, cigarettes, cash, cell phones, tobacco and a MP3 player into the private facility, located at 182-22 on 150th St., at least 17 times. They also allegedly smuggled Patrón tequila and K2, a smokeable synthetic cannabinoid, according to Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the district.
The three suspects were allegedly given the items by non-incarcerated friends and relatives of the inmates in the Bronx and Queens, and allegedly took cash before and after a transfer of goods. They also allegedly received wire transfers from New Jersey, according to Kim.
“As alleged, these correction officers abused the public power entrusted to them by taking bribes to smuggle contraband, including drugs, into a jail that housed federal inmates,” Kim said. “Corruption of those who work within our criminal justice system, including officers at a private detention facility, cannot be tolerated and must be rooted out, as it undermines the public faith in the system and betrays the trust of all fellow officers who dedicate themselves to the proper administration of justice.”
The trio allegedly ran the items undetected for about a year by hiding them in camera blind spots, such as bathroom urinals, inside pails and in slop sinks, according to Criminal Investigator Stefano Braccini of the USAO for the Southern District, who questioned the inmates involved.
The Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General assisted in the investigation. The Office’s Public Corruption Unit will further handle the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas McKay and Max Nicholas are in charge of the prosecution, according to Kim.
The three suspects were released on a $100,000 bond. Each had to surrender their travel documents and cannot travel outside of the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.
Their arraignment has not been scheduled yet, according to a spokeswoman of the Southern District’s USAO.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose