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Press Release

Former Correction Officer Sentenced To 41 Months In Prison For Involvement In Rikers Island Bribery And Narcotics Ring

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that AUSTIN ROMAIN, a former New York City Correction Officer, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court today to 41 months in prison for narcotics, bribery, and honest services fraud offenses arising from a scheme to smuggle drugs and other contraband into Rikers Island for inmates.  ROMAIN was convicted on December 12, 2014, following a four-day trial before the Honorable Robert W. Sweet, who imposed today’s sentence.                  

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The sentencing of Austin Romain marks the latest step in our efforts to root out unlawful conduct at Rikers Island, by individuals and by the institution as a whole.  Romain abused his position of authority as a corrections officer to become, in effect, a jailhouse drug dealer.  Corruption at New York prisons, whether by individual officers like Romain or by the corrections system more broadly, is unacceptable and remains a top priority of this Office.”

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

ROMAIN became a Correction Officer in 2007.  He was assigned to the George R. Vierno Center (GRVC) and later the Otis Bantum Correctional Center (OBCC) at Rikers Island.  On multiple occasions in 2012 and 2013, ROMAIN smuggled marijuana, tobacco, and other contraband into the GRVC and provided it to inmates housed in that facility, who in turn sold it to other inmates.  ROMAIN coordinated with the girlfriends of his inmate co-conspirators, who met with him to supply him with marijuana and to pay him for his smuggling activities.  ROMAIN accepted thousands of dollars in bribes for the packages that he smuggled in to the GRVC and OBCC.

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ROMAIN, 33, of Brooklyn, New York, was convicted on one count of honest services fraud, one count of bribery, and one count of conspiring to distribute marijuana.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the New York City Department of Investigation.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Russell Capone and Martin S. Bell are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated October 13, 2015

Press Release Number: 15-263