Corrections officers at Rikers Island charged with smuggling drugs and phones to imprisoned gang members

Federal prosecutors claim that two city prison officers trafficked cellphones and illicit substances including K2 and marijuana to members of the Bloods gang on Rikers Island in return for thousands of dollars in bribes. The New York Daily News reports that Krystle Burrell, 35, and Katrina Patterson, 31, were apprehended on Tuesday in separate plots using various Rikers facilities.

Prosecutors believe that Patterson collected more than $30,000 from Imani Matthews, 25, and Ashley Medina, 24, two girlfriends of Michael Ross, who was detained at Rikers on criminal weapon possession charges, between October 2020 and March 2021. Patterson allegedly slipped Ross “4 black joints in 1 paper” and told Matthews that “it better be wrapped so many times I don’t want to smell it.”

Authorities seized roughly 50 grams of marijuana and a prohibited cell phone in Ross’ cell at the Robert N. Davoren Center on Rikers Island on November 10, 2020, and Ross was placed in solitary confinement. After Ross was put in solitary, Patterson sent a message to Medina saying, “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 was anxious to get back to her side job smuggling contraband only 15 days after the bust in Ross’ cell, texting Matthews, “Tell him tomorrow if he ready to get back to business let me know.” Patterson was caught on video smuggling in bags of what prosecutors say were narcotics to inmates associated with Ross. Matthews and Medina paid Patterson via CashApp.

Burrell’s smuggling operation in 2021 was more apparent to authorities. The six-year Department of Corrections veteran reportedly smuggled cell phones and drugs to Terrae Hinds, 28, another Bloods gang member. She is also accused of assisting Hinds in the distribution of opioids while he was incarcerated in the Anna M. Kross Center. When questioned by detectives, Burrell ultimately confessed to giving Hinds a phone, but only after she was threatened with a weapon.

Matthews, Medina, Ross, and Hinds are also accused of bribery conspiracy and all six offenders are facing a maximum sentence of five years behind bars. City Corrections Commissioner Louis Molina called the allegations against the officers “disturbing” and explained that smuggling contraband “puts everyone in our facilities at risk,” adding that “If these officers are found guilty they will be terminated and their shield numbers will never be worn again.”

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