A total of 17 people, including two corrections officers, a cook, and six inmates, were indicted Thursday for smuggling drugs and scalpels into Rikers Island in exchange for thousands in bribes, authorities said.
Corrections Officer Kevin McKoy, 31, was charged with getting at least $10,000 in bribes for bringing in contraband, including scalpels wrapped in duct tape to avoid the metal detector and drugs, according to the Bronx district attorney’s office and the Department of Investigation. The investigation took place from September 2015 to November 2015.
“It reveals the true scope of corruption with inmates, Department of Correction employees, and outsiders all accused of selfishly endangering others,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said, adding that the corrections officers “degraded” their uniforms and badges.
The investigation revealed that McKoy, who was arrested in November 2015 when he was allegedly found at the prison with seven scalpels tucked in a leg of his long johns, would meet up with inmates’ families outside of jail and then bring the contraband in.
Drugs would then sell for a lot more than their street value. A small bag of marijuana, for example, could go for $50, DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said.
Nine more scalpels were found in his Brooklyn home, according to the Bronx DA’s office.
When McKoy got caught, according to the Bronx DA’s office, Corrections Officer Mohammed Sufian, 25, allegedly took over and agreed to bring tobacco in. He was arrested in February when he was allegedly found with contraband in his socks.
“We learned how this criminal underground economy stays in business,” Peters said, adding: “This was active recruiting of CO’s to serve as the couriers.”
McKoy and Sufian were charged with several offenses, including third-degree bribe receiving and official misconduct. Bail was set at $50,000 bond for McKoy, and an attorney for him declined to comment.
Sufian was released without bail. An attorney with the Blanch Law Firm said Sufian was “fresh out the academy” and has no criminal history, adding he was allegedly offered a “paltry sum.”
“We anticipate further indictments in the coming months as Rikers continues to gain attention from both state and federal prosecutors,” the attorney said in an email. “Mr. Sufian’s story is very different from other corrections officers who have been convicted and perhaps from those who are now charged.”
If convicted, both McKoy and Sufian face up to seven years in prison on each of the top counts.
Department of Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte said the agency was launching a team to monitor inmate phone calls Thursday, and adding broader K-9 searches.
“We are taking aggressive steps to stem the flow of contraband into our facilities, resulting in a 48% increase in weapon seizures this year,” Ponte said in a statement.
“From investing in X-ray machines and expanding K-9 teams to increasing visitor searches and overhauling our officer recruitment and vetting process, we have put comprehensive reforms in place to root out contraband on Rikers Island.”