An employee at the troubled federal lockup in Lower Manhattan allegedly lied about the “good behavior” of a one-time Tekashi 6ix9ine associate in a bid for leniency ahead of his sentencing, according to a new indictment.
The attempt to influence the judge was included in the charges against 11 defendants — three employees of the Metropolitan Correctional Center and eight inmates — who allegedly ran a contraband-smuggling ring from 2019 to January 2021 at the since-closed jail.
Prosecutors for the Southern District of New York allege Sharon Griffith-McKnight, a unit secretary at the MCC, vouched for Anthony “Harv” Ellison in a letter prior to his 2020 sentencing for acting as a leader in the Nine Trey Bloods.
Griffith-McKnight “falsely reported to the Court in connection with Ellison’s sentencing proceeding that Ellison ‘had proven himself to be a model inmate’ even though at the time Griffith was smuggling to Ellison contraband and therefore knew that Ellison was not, in fact, a ‘model inmate,’ ” the indictment states.
Ellison was eventually sentenced to 24 years in prison for crimes he committed with the gang, including kidnapping Tekashi and slashing a rival in the face in retaliation for a shooting.
Prosecutors noted in the indictment that the judge in Ellison’s case — who was not named in the indictment — took into account his “model” behavior in meting out his punishment.
“The presiding judge stated that Ellison’s purported good behavior in prison was ‘impressive’ and that ‘[u]nless this is some sort of Grisham novel, and people are all corrupt and making all of this up about [Ellison], it seems to me that it’s unavoidable that [Ellison’s] trajectory at the MCC contains a lot of good’,” the indictment states.
Court records show Ellison was sentenced by Judge Paul Engelmayer.
As part of the smuggling ring, two guards at the MCC sneaked in drugs, cellphones, cigarettes, alcohol and other contraband, the indictment states.
One of the correctional officers, Perry Joyner, threatened an inmate who was speaking to prosecutors about the smuggling ring, according to the charges.
All of the suspects face conspiracy charges for the smuggling operation. Joyner and Griffith-McKnight are also charged with obstruction of justice for their efforts to aid Ellison and to intimidate a witness, according to the indictment.
The MCC is a notoriously corrupt and dangerous jail that housed inmates awaiting trial in Manhattan federal court.
In 2019, multimillionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein killed himself at the lockup while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
Inmates at the jail have been moved out of the lockup after federal authorities announced plans to close the facility in August.