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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Correction Officers Get Short Jail Sentences in Teen's Death

Rikers Island correction officers get short jail terms for role in 18-year-old inmate’s death
The New York Daily News by Henrick Karoliszyn - January 18, 2012
Ran jailhouse shakedown scheme called "The Program."

A pair of rogue Rikers Island correction officers stood silently Tuesday as they were sentenced to short jail terms for running a jailhouse operation that left a teen inmate dead. Officers Michael McKie and Khalid Nelson avoided 50-year jail terms in a sweetheart plea bargain deal for their roles in “The Program.” The sadistic, secret society for inmates led to the death of 18-year-old Christopher Robinson at the hands of other Rikers inmates in October 2008. McKie, who has already spent 21 months behind bars, will serve another three months after receiving a two-year jail term for assault. Nelson was sentenced to a year in prison for attempted murder. Both declined to comment before Bronx Judge Joseph Dawson imposed the terms and the ex-officers were led from the courtroom in handcuffs. The judge ripped the duo as “disgraceful,” condemning their “breach of trust.” The slain teen’s anguished mother said the sentencings were not cause to celebrate. “I’m not happy,” said Charnel Robinson, 38. “It’s not a win for me. My son is gone ... I’m happy for the justice, but I’m still greiving my son. At the end of the day, these people are still able to see their families. “My only child is a sight I’ll never see again.” Attorney Sanford Rubenstein said he was pursuing a civil suit on behalf of the Robinson family. The plea deal for the two correction officers came after a three-year probe by the Bronx district attorney. Prosecutors said the convicted officers turned a blind eye as other inmates belonging to “The Program” killed Robinson. The officers recruited inmates as part of the operation, allowing those who cooperated to extort commissary money, phone privileges and clothes from other inmates. The prisoners who refused to surrender their property were beaten at a time and place authorized by the corrupt guards, prosecutors charged. The motive for letting the inmates run the cellblocks was laziness, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said when the officers were indicted in 2009.

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