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May 29, 2014
Contact: Public Information Officer
Number: 212-337-2906

Former Correction Officer Convicted in Manhattan Federal Court for Smuggling Marijuana into Riker’s Island in Connection with Inmate Distribution Ring


MAY 29 (MANHATTAN)—Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the conviction of Khalif Phillips, a former New York City Correction Officer, in connection with his smuggling of marijuana into Riker’s Island for inmates to redistribute late last night.  Following a one-week trial, the jury convicted Phillips on the second day of deliberations of each of the three counts that he faced.  Phillips is scheduled to be sentenced on September 25, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan, who presided over the trial.

As alleged in the Indictment against Phillips and established by the evidence admitted at trial:

Phillips worked as a Correction Officer from February 2006 until his arrest in June 2013.  He was assigned to the George R. Vierno Center (GRVC) on Riker’s Island.  On multiple occasions in 2012, Phillips smuggled marijuana into the GRVC and provided it to inmates housed in that facility, who in turn sold it to other inmates.  Phillips coordinated with the wives and girlfriends of his inmate co-conspirators, who met with him to supply him with marijuana and to pay him for his smuggling activities.  Among the occasions where Phillips brought packages of marijuana into Riker’s Island were October 8, 2012, and December 23, 2012.  Typically, Phillips charged $1,000 per package that he smuggled into the GRVC. 

Phillips, 31, of Brooklyn, New York, was convicted of one count of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, and two counts of distributing and possessing with intent to distribute marijuana.  Each of the three counts carries a maximum term of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.  The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York City Department of Investigation and the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force which is comprised of agents and officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York City Police Department and the New York State Police.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Russell Capone, Rahul Mukhi, and Carrie Cohen are in charge of the prosecution.

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