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Wyandanch woman gets probation in Nassau jail smuggling scheme

Sharonda Hall, 25, of Wyandanch, in court in

Sharonda Hall, 25, of Wyandanch, in court in Mineola on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. Hall will serve a term of 3 years of probation after admitting to a misdemeanor charge of promoting prison contraband. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A judge Thursday gave a probation sentence to one of three women who last year became ensnared in what authorities called a contraband smuggling scheme at Nassau’s jail.

Sharonda Hall, 25, of Wyandanch will serve 3 years of probation after previously admitting to a misdemeanor charge of promoting prison contraband.

Nassau prosecutors had alleged after Hall’s February 2016 felony arrest that she and a Baldwin woman would pick up cash at a money wiring store, buy contraband, and turn it over to an Armor Correctional Health Services jail nurse — who was paid to sneak items to inmates.

Authorities alleged that the suspects supplied razor blades and K2, or synthetic marijuana, to inmates as part of a scheme that involved Bloods gang members who were incarcerated at the East Meadow facility.

The district attorney’s office said Thursday that charges remain pending against former jail nurse Chantiel Cox, 26, of Amityville, but declined to comment further on the case. Cox previously has denied the allegations through her attorney, who also has said she will be exonerated.

Amanda Minnieer, 28, of Baldwin, pleaded guilty last year to a felony and admitted passing K2 and lighters into the jail before a judge sentenced her to 6 months in jail and 5 years of probation for her role in the scheme.

As part of her plea, Hall admitted to passing along K2, according to her attorney, Mitchell Barnett of Garden City.

Hall ignored questions and hid her face as she left court after appearing before a judge in Mineola Thursday.

Barnett said after the sentencing that prosecutors hadn’t approached his client and asked her to cooperate against any other defendants.

“I think it worked out for everyone’s benefit,” Barnett said of the sentence in Hall’s case.

The contraband arrests came at a time when controversy had enveloped Armor, the jail’s outgoing inmate medical provider, after a series of inmate deaths.

The arrests also prompted Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas to call the jail’s security into question.

But Sheriff Michael Sposato, a political appointee who runs the jail, said it was facility security procedures that ultimately led to the discovery of the contraband conspiracy.

Jail safety was an issue that the union for correction officials brought to the forefront later in 2016 with a labor rally at which members expressed a vote of “no confidence” in Sposato.

But Sposato countered criticisms then by saying the jail “is managed very well,” and correction officers were upset about being made to work harder.

The contraband arrests followed a January 2016 slashing that left one inmate needing more than 260 stitches to his face. A gang violence outbreak in late February 2016 — after the arrests — also led to as many as five inmate slashings at the jail in a week.

Law enforcement sources previously said it is very difficult to trace the origin of illegal weapons inside the jail without cooperation from insiders, and that at least some weapons were coming in through the facility’s visiting area.

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