A Brooklyn federal prison officer was arrested and charged on Tuesday for allegedly accepting tens of thousands of dollars to smuggle contraband to prison inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park.
Quandelle Joseph, 32, was accused of taking bribes in exchange for drugs, cigarettes and cell phones in multiple occasions after starting the job in May 2020.
“We allege the defendant participated in a scheme to smuggle contraband into a federal prison in exchange for money, breaking not only his oath of duty but also the law,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll in a statement. “The defendant’s actions put both the inmates of MDC and his fellow correctional officers at risk. The FBI will continue to ensure corrupt individuals abusing the authority given to them by the public are held responsible in the criminal justice system.”
During a lockdown, Joseph allegedly entered a unit he wasn’t guarding and opened an inmate’s cell, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A few hours later, MDC staff smelled marijuana coming from that cell and searched it, finding a contraband cell phone. The inmate had flushed the marijuana down the toilet.
Text messages from 2020 sent from Joseph to an inmate’s contact outside the facility say the inmate owed him $12,000. Joseph also used a “burner” telephone to communicate with another inmate about the bribery scheme and warn him about upcoming contraband searches.
In 2021, Joseph texted an inmate from whom he was receiving bribes, saying “[t]ighten up search comin clean phones out call logs n text n try to stash it.” A second text from Joseph to the inmate on the next day reads, “keep your phones cleannnnnnnnnn erase texts and call logs every night.”
Joseph was arrested this week and released on $50,000 bond pending trial. If convicted, he will face a maximum sentence of fifteen years in prison.
A similar case occurred last month, when a former federal prison guard from the same prison pleaded guilty of taking bribes in exchange for providing illegal contraband to incarcerated people. He is also facing a 15 years in prison.