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3 Rikers Island officials punished in inmate death

An exterior view of Rikers Island.

An exterior view of Rikers Island. Credit: AP

The city's top jailer has disciplined three Rikers Island officials as an internal probe continues over a mentally ill former Marine left alone to die in a cell where temperatures reached at least 100 degrees.

Acting Correction Commissioner Mark Cranston ordered the facility's warden demoted, the mechanic supervising the heating system transferred and an additional suspension for the guard who neglected to check in on inmate Jerome Murdough, 56.

Murdough, on antipsychotics and anti-seizure medicine, was locked up at Rikers after police caught him seeking warmth in a public-housing stairwell where he didn't belong. He couldn't make the $2,500 bail. He was found dead Feb. 16. Cranston has blamed the excessive heat in the cell block on a malfunctioning heating system.

According to correction spokesman Eldin Villafane, the warden of Rikers' Anna M. Kross Center where Murdough was housed, Rose Agro, is being demoted to a facility that doesn't oversee the mentally ill. The mechanics supervisor, who wasn't named, was transferred to a job where he's not responsible for projects related to inmate housing. The guard who was supposed to check on Murdough every half-hour -- but didn't for up to four hours -- had already been suspended 20 days without pay. Cranston added 10 more days, the maximum allowed under civil service law. The guard's name hasn't been disclosed, and he could face further punishment.

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