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Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that GREG MCKENZIE, a former Bureau of Prisons correctional officer, was sentenced to 36 months in prison for obstructing a federal investigation into the smuggling of a firearm into the Metropolitan Correctional Center (“MCC”) by lying to federal investigators about using a prepaid cellphone to communicate secretly with Deejay White, the inmate who possessed the firearm in the MCC, and his wife Dawntiana White, who helped smuggle in the firearm. The loaded firearm was recovered from inside the MCC on March 5, 2020. MCKENZIE pled guilty before United States District Judge P. Kevin Castel on September 14, 2022. Judge Castel sentenced MCKENZIE earlier today.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Greg McKenzie, a former correctional officer, obstructed an investigation into the smuggling of a firearm into the MCC that endangered the safety of inmates, prison staff, and the greater community. By lying about his secret communications with the very inmate who possessed a firearm in the MCC and that inmate’s wife, who helped smuggle the firearm into the MCC, McKenzie thwarted a serious criminal investigation and sacrificed the integrity of the institution he swore to protect. McKenzie’s sentence underscores this Office’s commitment to holding public servants accountable and ensuring that no one is above the law.”
According to the Indictment, public court filings, and statements made in court proceedings:
On or about March 5, 2020, a loaded .22 caliber firearm (the “Firearm”) was recovered from inside an MCC prison cell that had last been occupied by two inmates, including Deejay White. Approximately five weeks earlier, on January 30, 2020, MCKENZIE purchased a prepaid cellphone (the “McKenzie Prepaid Cellphone”) and used it to communicate with Deejay White and his wife Dawntiana on multiple occasions on January 31, 2020, and February 1, 2020. In addition, cellphone location information indicated that on the evening of January 31, 2020, MCKENZIE and Dawntiana each traveled to the same vicinity in the Bronx at about the same time, after which MCKENZIE drove to lower Manhattan and started a shift at the MCC at midnight. MCKENZIE’s assignment for that shift was to work on the unit where Deejay was housed.
Surveillance video and call detail records further established that, upon entering the MCC for his shift, MCKENZIE circumvented a metal detector. Shortly after MCKENZIE’s shift began, Deejay White used a contraband cellphone to call and then text the McKenzie Prepaid Cellphone. Within minutes, MCKENZIE returned to Deejay White’s cellblock – alone – while appearing to carry an object under his left arm.
On July 23, 2021, Deejay White pled guilty to possessing the Firearm inside the MCC before Judge Castel, and on July 13, 2021, Dawntiana White pled guilty to conspiring to smuggle the Firearm into the MCC before U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla.
On November 4, 2021, two federal agents conducted a voluntary interview with MCKENZIE. During the interview, MCKENZIE falsely denied ownership, possession, and use of the McKenzie Prepaid Cellphone, and falsely denied ever using any prepaid cellphone to communicate with an MCC inmate or inmate’s associate.
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In addition to his prison sentence, MCKENZIE, 35, of Danbury, Connecticut, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice – Office of the Inspector General, Special Agents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in New York.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption and Narcotics Units. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aline R. Flodr, Jonathan E. Rebold, and Daniel H. Wolf are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Juliana N. Murray.