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Ex-Correction Officer Gets 6 Years in Prison for Smuggling Drugs into Jail

By Valeria Ricciulli | April 28, 2016 4:19pm
 Patricia Howard smuggled drugs and cellphones into the Manhattan Detention Complex, authorities said.
Patricia Howard smuggled drugs and cellphones into the Manhattan Detention Complex, authorities said.
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MANHATTAN — A former city correction officer was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday for taking money to smuggle drugs and cellphones into the Manhattan Detention Complex, authorities said.

Patricia Howard, 44, of The Bronx, distributed cocaine,marijuana, cellphones and what she thought was oxycodone in exchange for hundreds of dollars in cash, according to the Department of Investigation.

She had been working with the Department of Correction since 1996 and was at one point assigned to work in the mailroom, where she was able to further her distribution activity, officials said. She was arrested and suspended from the job in May 2015.

“The security of City jails is only as sound as the integrity of those who operate them,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance in a statement. “In this case, the defendant was convicted of participating in a so-called ‘Jail Shopping Network’ by smuggling dangerous contraband into the MDC, jeopardizing the safety of all who work or reside in the jail.”

When apprehended, Howard was holding a shipping bag filled with crack, marijuana, tobacco, rolling papers and lighters, among other objects. She also had $800 in cash that she gotten from another person involved in the scheme.

The DOI used undercover operations to find evidence on the crime, including an inmate and two other individuals who were charged in the original indictment.

“This Correction Officer not only leveraged the authority her position afforded for personal financial gain, but compromised the safety of her fellow officers by engaging in this corruption,” said DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters.

A month after Howard's arrest last year, an inmate accused of murder was found with bedsheets stashed in his cell as part of a potential escape plot.