Federal prosecutors charged two New York City correction officers Thursday with smuggling drugs to inmates in a Manhattan jail in exchange for bribes.
The officers, Christian Mizell of Queens and Carl Noel of Manhattan, brought packages of marijuana to two inmates in the Manhattan Detention Complex last year after picking up cash bribes from the inmates’ friends, prosecutors allege in an indictment unsealed in Brooklyn federal court.
The inmates, Warren Green and Patrick Johnson, allegedly sold the pot in the jail after the officers brought it to them. They and their friends, Robert Martino, Malik Holloway and Asha Patterson, allegedly plotted the smuggling operation with Mizell and Noel for a year and a half before executing it from May to July 2017, the indictment says.
“When the defendant correction officers betrayed the trust placed in them by the City of New York, they not only committed serious crimes but also potentially jeopardized the safety of staff and inmates,” Richard P. Donoghue, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, said in a statement.
Mizell had worked for the Department of Corrections since 2006 and Noel since 2016. Both will be suspended and, if convicted, fired from the force, city Corrections Commissioner Cynthia Brann said.
Their alleged crimes “in no way reflect the values of the hardworking men and women who are committed to keeping jails safe,” Brann said in a statement.
Mizell and Noel each met twice last year with either Holloway and Martino to pick up marijuana and other contraband, along with thousands of dollars in cash bribes, federal officials said.
Green and Johnson, who were jailed in Manhattan on unrelated felonies, would communicate with Holloway, Martino and Patterson to coordinate the deals, the indictment says.
The correction officers usually brought packages of drugs to Johnson and Green in person, the indictment says. But Mizell once allegedly left a package in a prison bathroom for Johnson to pick up.
The scheme apparently ended in July of last year, when Mizell picked up drugs from Martino in Queens but was arrested when caught trying to bring them into the Manhattan jail two days later, the indictment says.
All seven people were set to be arraigned Thursday afternoon on federal charges including marijuana possession, marijuana distribution and conspiracy. Mizell and Noel have been jailed without bail, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The Manhattan Detention Complex is one of four city-run jails located off the city’s main correctional complex on Rikers Island. Most inmates there are awaiting trial in Manhattan criminal court.
Mizell and Noel were allegedly smuggling drugs into the city jail even as guards across the state were stopping more contraband from getting in. Officers were expected to seize 4,225 pieces of contraband at state jails and prisons in 2017, up from 3,651 in 2015, according to a state Senate report published last year.
City-run jails have also seen a spike in contraband seizures. Confiscations of weapons from jail visits increased 500 percent from 2014 to 2017, the Department of Corrections said. Guards also seized 172 percent more drugs from visits in 2017 than in 2014, the department said.