MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced the arrests of five individuals as part of a joint law enforcement investigation into the smuggling of dangerous contraband into the Nassau County Correctional Center.
DA Singas said that Operation United Front – a joint law enforcement investigation including the District Attorney’s Office, Nassau County Sheriff’s Department, Nassau County Police Department and United States Postal Inspection Service into prison contraband – began in the Fall of 2017 following an incident of drugs being smuggled into the Nassau County Correctional Center.
That incident, on November 13, 2017, involved a drug-sniffing dog that led jail officials to defendant Valerie Ritchwood, who was allegedly attempting to smuggle two balloons – one pink and one purple – into the jail. The balloons allegedly contained “K2” synthetic marijuana, marijuana, orange colored strips believed to be Suboxone as well as match heads and striker strips. The balloons were allegedly located under several layers of clothing.
Following the November 13 incident, Operation United Front yielded four more arrests.
On November 21, 2017, a drug-sniffing dog alerted jail officials to an attempt to allegedly smuggle three balloons of Suboxone, marijuana and matches into the jail. A subsequent investigation revealed defendants Dominique Horne and Christopher Wright allegedly conspired to smuggle the contraband. At the time of this arrest, Wright was incarcerated in NCCC and allegedly conducting business with Horne, who was not incarcerated.
On February 9, while performing an inspection, Nassau County Corrections Officers discovered heroin inside an envelope. A further investigation revealed that defendant Julius Eatman allegedly instructed defendant Natasha Hyslop on how to obtain, package and mail the heroin to him inside the jail. Additionally, on February 13 and February 28, corrections officers allegedly discovered two envelopes addressed to Eatman from Hyslop, that contained Suboxone strips along the adhesive seals to the envelopes.
Additional arrests are anticipated.
Valerie Ritchwood, 38, of Roosevelt, was arraigned on November 14, 2017 before Judge Paul Meli and charged with Promoting Prison Contraband in the First Degree (a D felony) and Promoting Prison Contraband in the Second Degree (an A misdemeanor). The defendant was released on bail. If convicted of the top count she faces a maximum of 2-1/3 to seven years in prison.
Dominique Horne, 33, of Hempstead was arraigned on July 19 before Judge Eileen Goggin and charged Promoting Prison Contraband in the First Degree (a D felony). The defendant was released on bail and is due back in court August 28. If convicted of the top count she faces a maximum of 2-1/3 to seven years in prison.
Christopher Wright, 32, of NCCC, was arraigned on August 2 before Judge Andrew Engel on charges Promoting Prison Contraband in the First Degree (a D felony), and Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree (an A misdemeanor). The defendant was released on bail and is due back in court October 18. If convicted of the top count he faces a maximum of 3-1/2 to seven years in prison.
Natasha Hyslop, 40, of Hempstead was arraigned on July 26 before Judge Eileen Goggin and charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree (a B felony) and three counts of Promoting Prison Contraband in the First degree (a D felony) and. The defendant was released on bail and is due back in court September 14. If convicted of the top count she faces a maximum of 9 years in prison.
Julius Eatman, 52, of NCCC, was arraigned on July 27 before Judge Paul Meli and charged with three counts of Promoting Prison Contraband in the First degree (a D felony). The defendant was arraigned and is due back in court August 14. If convicted of the top count he faces a maximum of 2-1/3 to seven years in prison.
“These defendants allegedly tried to smuggle K2, heroin, suboxone, marijuana and other drug paraphernalia into the Nassau County Correctional Center, but were thwarted as the result of our joint investigation,” DA Singas said. “Smuggling drugs into a jail setting is extremely dangerous and puts the safety of corrections officers, staff, inmates and community members at risk. I am grateful to our partners at NCCC, NCPD and USPIS for their assistance with this case.”
“I thank Nassau County District Attorney Singas, Nassau County Sheriff Fludd, our Corrections Officers and members of the Nassau County Police Department for their partnership and coordination of the Operation United Front investigation,” said County Executive Laura Curran. “The safety and well-being of our officers and inmates remains a top priority of our county agencies.”
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said, “These arrests are a direct result of the hard work and tireless efforts of the men and woman from the different agencies working as one. This demonstrates that the war on drugs does not stop at the street level but continues anywhere it’s found in the County. We will continue our combined efforts to halt contraband from entering our facilities and keeping our jails a drug free environment.”
“These individuals allegedly conspired to use their association with the corrections system to operate a drug ring behind bars. While they thought their scheme would go unnoticed, Postal Inspectors and their law enforcement partners have repeatedly shown there is no hiding from justice; you will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for your crimes,” said Postal Service Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina.
Deputy Chief Anne Donnelly and Assistant District Attorney George Smit of DA Singas’ Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau are prosecuting these cases. Horne, Eatman and Hyslop are represented by the Legal Aid Society, Ritchwood is represented by George Michel, Esq. and Wright is represented by Patrick Spike Kauffman, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.