After pleading guilty last month, a former correction officer at the Manhattan Detention Complex has been sentenced to six years in state prison for smuggling narcotics, cell phones, tools, tobacco, and more into the Lower Manhattan jail commonly known as "The Tombs." Patricia Howard, 44, worked as a correction officer for nearly 20 years, and was arrested a year ago along with three others as part of a 10-month undercover operation by the Department of Investigation and the Manhattan District Attorney's office.
When Howard was arrested in May 2015, she was found with a shopping bag that contained cocaine, marijuana, cell phones, tobacco, and rolling papers, among other things. In a guilty plea, Howard admitted to conspiring with her co-defendants—inmate Tommy Davis, his sister, Velver Jean Davis, and his niece, Khalilah Mattocks—to smuggle in such contraband between December 2014 and May 2015.
At the time of her arrest, officials said that this went undetected in part because of lax screening at MDC. Howard was reportedly able to walk through the staff entrance carrying gift bags, which wouldn't be sent through the X-ray machine—and when they did go through the machine, the drugs and other contraband she was smuggling weren't detected.
Howard worked in the mailroom, and the investigation found that this position allowed her to receive contraband from Mattocks and give it to Davis, who was awaiting trial for murder charges. Howard would then receive a payment of up to $1,000. When investigators searched the mailroom, they found a handwritten, unsigned note that read, "Thanks for your support 'Jail Shopping Network.'" The note was addressed to Howard.
Last month, Howard was arraigned on new charges, the NY Post reported: while she was an inmate at Westchester County jail in Valhalla, she allegedly gave another inmate a folded piece of paper containing cocaine. Her defense attorney said that she maintains she was innocent in that incident.
Mattocks pleaded guilty on Tuesday, according to the Manhattan DA, and is expected to be sentenced on May 5th.
In a statement, DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said that "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. DOI remains fully committed to ending the underground contraband rings fueling violence and instability at our City’s jails." Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance added that "the security of City jails is only as sound as the integrity of those who operate them."