Jail guards smuggled contraband: U.S. DOJ

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim

Three Queens residents working as correction officers at a privately operated federal jail facility in the borough have been arrested for allegedly taking bribes to smuggle contraband to inmates.

Saquan Williams, 34, Jabar Allen, 26, and Shawn Pettigrew, 31, were charged in a complaint unsealed last Thursday in federal court in Manhattan, according to a statement issued by the office of Joon Kim, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The Springfield Gardens facility, leased by the U.S. Marshals Service, houses federal inmates.

“As alleged, these correction officers abused the public power entrusted to them by taking bribes to smuggle contraband, including drugs, into a jail that housed federal inmates,” Kim said. “Corruption of those who work within our criminal justice system, including officers at a private detention facility, cannot be tolerated and must be rooted out, as it undermines the public faith in the system and betrays the trust of all fellow officers who dedicate themselves to the proper administration of justice.”

All three have been charged with one count of bribery, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison; and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and to introduce contraband into prison, which carries a maximum penalty of five years.

According to the complaint, Williams, Allen and Pettigrew took bribes from numerous inmates at the jail in exchange for smuggling contraband, including smokeable synthetic marijuana, also known as K2, marijuana, alcohol, tobacco and other items into the jail for the inmates.

The bribes allegedly were funneled to the three by non-incarcerated friends and relatives of the inmates either in cash or by wire transfer.

Citing one example, Kim’s office said Williams, on at least three occasions in 2017, received bribes from an inmate in exchange for smuggling in K2, marijuana, and cigarettes.

On at least two occasions in 2016, Allen also allegedly took bribes from the same inmate in exchange for marijuana and cigarettes.

Prosecutors allege that Pettigrew received bribes from an inmate on about 10 occasions this year in exchange for K2, marijuana, cigarettes and cellular telephones.

Williams also allegedly took a bribe from the second inmate.