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lawyer – The Hamden Journal

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Corruption in the ranks of Rikers Island correctional officers is so widespread that a convicted prison guard claims he smuggled drugs into the facility in a sad attempt to keep his own job.

Former guard Darial Diaz, 33, smuggled K-2, cigarettes and a cell phone into George R. Vierno’s dungeon on the island in an attempt to keep “peace” among members of the gangs housed in his unit, his attorney said in a sentencing memo to his case in federal court in Manhattan.

In the court file, the lawyer for the former guard claims that Diaz smuggled the contraband in 2020 because he desperately wanted to find a full-time job in the prison – and needed the inmates of his. unit behave for a chance of promotion.

Diaz was completing two years of probationary employment that is necessary for full-time work with the Corrections Department when he began smuggling, the record shows.

“The reality in Rikers, where inmates far outnumber the guards, is that the gangs control all aspects of life on the units. If there were fights, stabbing and other disturbances in the unit, Diaz would not be approved for a full-time job at the prison, a post he was eager to get, ”he said. writes his lawyer, Avrom Robin.

Diaz was trying to get a full time job on Rikers Island.
Erik Pendzich / Shutterstock

Diaz was unable to turn to his superiors at work for advice on how to control inmates as he believed they were going to ignore this and tell him it wasn’t their problem, court documents show .

His superiors were also turning a blind eye to contraband at the prison, Diaz’s lawyer said.

“Corrections officers smuggling for inmates is part of everyday life at Rikers,” Robin wrote.

Diaz is accused of being bribed $ 8,000 to smuggle goods for gang members.
EPA / JUSTIN LANE

“The captain in charge of the housing unit would come and go and know what was going on,” Diaz said. That is, the captain knew the inmates had cell phones, cigarettes and worse, and he knew correctional officers like Diaz were smuggling this contraband, ”he added.

So Diaz conspired with a gang member in the housing unit to sneak into contraband after being paid some $ 8,000, according to prosecution documents against him.

Diaz met with co-conspirators outside of prison to pull off the hug, which included smuggling K-2 soaked paper, his lawyer wrote.

View of the buildings of the Rikers Island prison in New York.
Diaz’s attorney, Avrom Robin, says “the captain” is well aware of the guards who smuggle inmates.
EPA / JUSTIN LANE

“Although Diaz didn’t need the money, he needed peace and order in his unit at Rikers, because without it he would never come out of probation and be promoted to a permanent position,” indicates the folder.

The corrupt guard was arrested in May 2021 and charged with conspiracy and bribery for the smuggling operation.

He is due to be sentenced on January 27.

A view of the entrance to Rikers Island Prison in New York City.
Over the past year, Rikers Island has been plagued by staffing issues and inmate deaths.
EPA / JUSTIN LANE

Diaz’s attorney did not immediately respond. A spokesperson for the Corrections Department declined to comment.