RIKERS ISLAND — A Rikers Island guard lost her job last month for gabbing on the phone with her ex-con husband for a total of 40 hours over the course of hundreds of calls — all while she was working and he was serving a five-month stint at the jail in 2013.
A city administrative judge ruled that veteran city Correction Department Officer Jannae Harris, 56, should get the axe after finding her guilty of several departmental charges, including taking 302 calls from her incarcerated husband, William Richardson, while at her jail post.
During chats, Harris trashed her co-workers, told him security details about the jail and threatened to run over a woman she suspected of having an affair with him, according to the judge’s Feb. 27 decision.
In one phone call, while Harris was supposedly manning a security gate that lets people on and off Rikers Island, she told her husband that she nearly beat up his alleged paramour, saying, “I was gonna have to do something to her though, run her over in the car or something.”
Harris eventually did attack the woman in the Bronx on Aug. 28, 2013 — a month after Richardson’s release from Rikers — and was arrested on assault charges, according to a criminal complaint and the administrative judge’s decision.
After her arrest, the DOC opened a probe, and its investigators learned that Richardson had served time at Rikers from February 2013 to July 2013 — but Harris never informed her bosses of his incarceration, a violation of agency rules.
The DOC records inmate phone calls, and when investigators checked Richardson’s call log, they found that he made hundreds of calls totaling 2,400 minutes to his wife on either her cell phone or an agency phone — all while she was supposedly working.
In the phone recordings, Harris fumes to Richardson about her co-workers, calling one a homophobic slur, accusing another of having a “Napoleon complex” and ranting that a group of drivers transporting prisoners were “jackasses,” records show.
Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings judge Kara Miller also found Harris guilty of assaulting the woman whom she suspected of having an affair with her husband.
Harris attacked the woman after following her husband to the woman’s Bronx home, according to the criminal complaint and the OATH decision. After confronting the woman about the alleged affair, Harris pulled the woman’s hair and scratched and punched her face, the complaint says.
In November 2013 Harris pleaded guilty in Bronx Criminal Court to second-degree harassment and was sentenced to a conditional discharge, skirting jail time, according to the Bronx District Attorney’s Office.
Miller also found that, during her conversations with Richardson, Harris provided information about where Rikers guards were working and informed him of the arrival of inmates he knew.
Miller recommended that Harris be terminated, saying she “lacks the judgment, perspective and integrity to be a correction officer.”
“[Harris’] nonchalance about her violation of so many departmental rules is remarkable,” Miller added. “In essence, [Harris] conducted her personal life at the expense of her job.”
Harris, who worked for the DOC for nearly 20 years, did not return a call for comment. Her lawyer, David Kirsch, declined to comment.
During the OATH trial, Harris admitted she broke the rules by having her cellphone on the job, but contended all guards bring their cellphones to their posts, the decision says.
She also told the judge she shouldn’t lose her job for being on the telephone with her husband “a bit too much.”
Harris also admitted that she discussed confidential information about prison guards with her husband, but she didn’t “think that there was anything wrong with discussing her job with her husband,” the decision says.
Harris also accused the woman she assaulted of being an unreliable witness because she had served time for murder.
Richardson, 57, has served four stints in New York prisons for sale of controlled substances, weapons possession and robbery.
Harris told the judge that she met Richardson in 2006, when her sister recommended him to do some handyman work at her home. She said she didn’t learn of his criminal history until 2009, when a parole officer contacted her, the OATH decision says.
The couple wed in 2009, and she followed DOC protocol by informing her superiors of her husband’s past. At the time, DOC investigators verified she didn’t know about his past and allowed her to continue work at Rikers.