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Correction officers’ union asks Nassau DA for probe

The Nassau County Correctional Facility in East Meadow

The Nassau County Correctional Facility in East Meadow on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The leader of Nassau’s correction officers’ union has asked the district attorney to investigate whether Sheriff Michael Sposato or other county administration officials may have obstructed justice by allegedly not pursuing criminal charges at first against a jail nurse in a contraband smuggling case.

Newsday reported last month that sources said Sposato’s administration didn’t initially seek the nurse’s arrest and tried to handle the matter quietly in-house after evidence emerged that the Armor Correctional Health Services employee was part of a plan to smuggle razors and synthetic marijuana to Nassau inmates — an account Sposato has denied.

Correction union president Brian Sullivan said in an interview Friday that he wants a full investigation into exactly how the case unfolded. It resulted in the February 2016 arrests of the nurse, who pleaded not guilty and whose case remains pending, and two other women who have been convicted.

“Our officers who are sworn to protect society deserve to know ‘who knew what and when’ as it relates to weapons being smuggled into our facility ... Did the sheriff, anyone in his administration, or anyone in the county administration obstruct justice in this case?” Sullivan wrote in a letter Friday to Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas asking for a probe.

Capt. Michael Golio, Sposato’s spokesman, said Friday that it was “very unfortunate that a prompt and successful investigation of a complex smuggling scheme conducted by Sheriff’s Department investigators has been overshadowed by these baseless accusations.”

He added that the sheriff “would welcome any investigation” by the district attorney’s office “into these false claims to put this issue to rest once and for all.”

Singas’ spokesman, Brendan Brosh, said Friday that the district attorney’s office had received Sullivan’s letter and “will review the allegations.”

Sullivan, whose union is planning a news conference Monday, also said in the letter that there have been four gang-related inmate slashings at the jail in the last two weeks. He wrote that the union continues to press Sposato “to enhance security measures at the jail” in light of problems that include contraband smuggling.

Golio responded Friday by saying weapon searches were carried out after the recent slashings and that control of contraband “is a constant challenge in any penal institution.”

Last February’s contraband arrests happened after Singas’ office found out independently about the smuggling scheme, demanded a briefing from Sposato and started a probe that then included cooperation from the sheriff’s department, law enforcement sources previously told Newsday.

The arrests also occurred at a time when Armor’s standard of medical care had come under fire in connection with a series of Nassau inmate deaths.

The initial contraband probe started after jail officials got a tip and developed evidence by listening to inmate phone calls, sources have said. They also said that in December 2015, jail officials stopped the nurse and found her with a personal phone and a lighter — both banned in the facility — before questioning her and having her fired. But after that, according to sources, Sposato’s administration “acted like it was over,” Newsday has reported.

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