Guard at N.Y.'s Rikers jail charged with rape, smuggling

Nicole Bartley is pictured in this undated handout photo provided by New York City Department of Investigation. REUTERS/New York City Department of Investigation/Handout via Reuters (Reuters)

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A corrections officer at New York's infamous Rikers Island jail complex has been arrested on charges of planning to smuggle marijuana to an inmate with whom she had a sexual relationship, authorities said on Sunday.

Nicole Bartley, 30, was charged with promoting prison contraband, as well as rape and other charges. The rape charge stems from New York law, under which inmates cannot legally consent to sex inside the jail.

Bartley is the second corrections officer to be arrested in four days for allegedly trying to bring illegal narcotics into the complex.

More than two dozen officers and other staffer members have been charged since 2014 with crimes including assault, official misconduct and smuggling, as officials seek to address criticism that Rikers is plagued by a culture of violence and abuse.

Rikers, which comprises 10 separate jails, typically has about 10,000 inmates, most of whom are either awaiting trial or serving short sentences after conviction.

The city's Department of Investigation said a drug-sniffing dog alerted authorities to Bartley when she arrived for work at 5 a.m. on Saturday.

While Bartley did not have any drugs on her, investigators found about 70 grams of marijuana at her home that she intended to deliver to an inmate with whom she had a sexual relationship, the department said.

The same dog, named Gunner, helped authorities on Wednesday arrest another officer, Mohammed Sufian, who was found to have hidden synthetic marijuana inside his socks on his way into Rikers, authorities said.

"This case involving sex for drugs puts on full display the dangers of corruption in our City’s jails and the connection between the drugs, inappropriate relationships and violence that pervade the system," Mark Peters, the department's commissioner, said of the Bartley arrest.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Peter Cooney)