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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Former Rikers Correction Officer Sentenced To More Than Two Years In Prison For Taking Bribes To Smuggle Contraband To Inmates

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that RASHAWN ASSANAH was sentenced today to 27 months in prison and more than $18,000 in financial penalties for taking bribes from inmates to smuggle contraband into a Rikers Island facility.  ASSANAH previously was arrested on May 26, 2021, and later pled guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges.  United States District Judge Colleen McMahon imposed today’s sentence. 

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Rashawn Assanah violated his oath to protect inmates in his care when he accepted cash bribes to smuggle dangerous contraband into Rikers Island.  That conduct was outrageous and unacceptable.  His prison sentence should send a clear message to any correction officer who may be tempted to smuggle contraband to inmates: this is a serious crime that leads to serious jail time.”

As reflected in the Indictment, public filings, and statements made in public proceedings:

RASHAWN ASSANAH abused his position as a correction officer to smuggle contraband, including cigarettes, K2, and a weapon, into the Robert N. Davoren Center on Rikers Island in return for over $7,500 in bribes from at least in or about November 2020 up through and including in or about February 2021.

Following ASSANAH’s guilty plea and before sentencing, and in order to adjourn his sentencing, ASSANAH lied to the court by claiming to have cancer and be undergoing chemotherapy — even submitting a forged note from a doctor who does not exist to substantiate his bogus claims. 

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ASSANAH, 26, of Queens, New York, pled guilty on October 22, 2021, to one count of conspiracy to commit federal crimes and one count of federal program bribery.  In addition to his prison term, ASSANAH was sentenced to three years of supervised release, ordered to forfeit $7,500.00, and directed to pay $10,935.60 in restitution to the New York City Department of Correction. 

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Department of Investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit, and Assistant United States Attorneys Marguerite Colson and Jarrod L. Schaeffer are in charge of the prosecution.

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Contact: 
Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
22-341
Updated November 2, 2022