[UPDATE BELOW] Riding on the heels of yesterday's good Rikers-related news—that the city will no longer jail a percentage of non-violent defendants who can't afford their bail—comes this little ditty: a Rikers guard was arrested yesterday for her alleged involvement in a Queens heroin ring run in part by a Bloods gang leader.
Covel Duncan, a 30-year-old correction officer stationed on Rikers, was allegedly part of an 11-person "Paper Chasing Goons" ring that sold heroin in Queens—according to a release from the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's Office, the gang sold hundreds of glassines of heroin a day, totaling over 1 kilo daily. The crew was allegedly run by a leader named Kamel Lambus, and was a subset of the Bloods gang.
Prosecutors allege that Duncan, who had begun working as a corrections officer in April 2012 and earned an annual salary of $46,248, sold the heroin at Rikers, though she has not recently had contact with any inmates after being placed on modified duty. She was arrested yesterday, and law enforcement officials seized about 500 glassines of heroine along with $7K in cash from her residence. She is out on $100K bail.
There's been some focus on the DOC's vetting process when it comes to hiring Rikers guards, after a report from earlier this year revealed that the Correction Department hired a large swath of guards with arrest records, "psychological" problems, and gang affiliations. Officials have since promised to "tighten up" their hiring process, so it may be a little more difficult to get a jail job if you have a side gig dealing heroin.
The DOC has not yet responded to request for comment.
Update 12:23 p.m.: A DOC spokesperson provided the following statement:
The vast majority of Correction Officers perform their duties with the highest level of integrity, and Commissioner Ponte has zero tolerance for those who don't. A key plank of DOC's 14-point anti violence initiative is improving staff recruitment, selection and training.
Officer Duncan has since been suspended.