Former Rikers Island inmate guilty of dealing drugs inside the jail – New York Daily News

A former Rikers Island detainee was convicted of running a drug-dealing ring inside the troubled jail complex, after a trial that featured blockbuster testimony from a corrupt guard who smuggled pot in exchange for bribes.
A Brooklyn Federal Court jury on Thursday found James Albert, 45, guilty of federal conspiracy and drug distribution charges.
“James Albert essentially ran an underground market for drugs and other contraband on Rikers Island,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Reich said in his closing argument Wednesday.
Rikers Island (Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)
Albert funneled bribes to two correction officers via Cash App through his wife and other associates on the outside, and had money sent to his spouse in exchange when he sold the drugs behind bars, Reich said.
Former Correction Officer Patrick Legerme, who took a plea deal in the case, testified on Monday about how he got a package of pot from one of Albert’s associates in June 2019, then hid it under his gym tights and uniform and brought it into the George R. Vierno Center, where Albert was housed.
Legerme said he put the drugs in a brown paper bag, dropped in two apples to make it look like a bag filled with commissary items, and handed it to Albert directly.
The trial comes amid a surge of deaths and overdoses at the notorious jail complex. The question of how contraband gets into Rikers was the focus of a City Council hearing last month, with Correction Commissioner Louis Molina saying detainees receive paper and other items in the mail soaked with fentanyl.
On Tuesday, a city Correction Department investigator testified that contraband and drugs “usually” comes into Rikers through corrupt jailers and staff.
Albert’s lawyers tried to convince the jury that the case against Albert was a sham based on “cherry-picked evidence,” that Legerme was lying, and that he was selling innocent items like his artwork. Defense attorney Anthony Cecutti said prosecutors found no drugs connected to Albert, and questioned why they didn’t put the second correction officer he was accused of bribing on the stand.
“You know what there is? Suspicion, that’s it,” Cecutti said.
Albert, who also goes by the name James McPhatter, is currently serving a 23-years-to-life sentence for a 2019 Queens robbery conviction. He’ll be sentenced in this case in March.
His brother, Shanduke McPhatter, the founder of anti-gang group, Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Changes, or G-MACC, drew scrutiny for his $282,000 city-paid salary after a 2020 arrest. Albert has ties to the advocacy group, and was listed as the “director of operation” on his LinkedIn page, the Daily News reported in 2020.
McPhatter, who was present at the trial, declined comment Thursday.
Copyright © 2022, New York Daily News
Copyright © 2022, New York Daily News


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