Five employees arrested for smuggling contraband into Brooklyn juvenile detention center

June 27, 2024 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
Crossroads Juvenile Center in Brownsville, Brooklyn, where five employees were recently charged with smuggling contraband into the facility, highlighting ongoing issues within the juvenile detention system. Photo via Google Street View
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Five employees of the Crossroads Juvenile Center in Brownsville, Brooklyn, were charged on Wednesday with smuggling weapons and drugs into the facility in exchange for bribes.

Da’Vante Bolton, Roger Francis, Christopher Craig, Nigel King and former employee Octavia Napier were arrested this morning on charges of conspiracy to commit Travel Act bribery. The defendants, all current or former Youth Development Specialists, are accused of accepting bribes to smuggle contraband, including narcotics and weapons, into the facility.

The charges were announced by Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the EDNY, along with Jocelyn Strauber, commissioner of the NYC Department of Investigation (DOI), and James Smith, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office.

“As alleged, these so-called ‘Youth Development Specialists’ violated their duty to the city and the residents at Crossroads by smuggling in weapons, drugs, and other contraband in exchange for bribes, placing young people and other staff members at an alarming risk of serious harm,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. 

Approximately 120 residents, ranging from ages 14 to 20, are detained at Crossroads. Staff members are supposed to undergo security screenings whenever they enter the facility. However, significant amounts of contraband have recently been recovered, including 75 cell phones and over 340 scalpels or blades between March 2022 and May 2024.

According to court documents, evidence against Bolton includes numerous recovered contraband cell phones that contained incriminating messages and transaction records showing payments made to Bolton via Apple Cash. One resident, referred to as Resident-1, coordinated with his father and other associates to pay Bolton for smuggling marijuana and razor blades. Bolton’s involvement was further substantiated by communications with another resident’s relative, referred to as Relative-2, who paid Bolton to bring in scalpels and other contraband.

In Addition to Bolton, the defendants accepted bribes for smuggling various contraband items:

  • Roger Francis, employed since July 2018, allegedly received more than $17,000 in bribes for smuggling marijuana and phone accessories.
  • Christopher Craig, employed since August 2018, allegedly accepted more than $5,000 in bribes for smuggling marijuana and tobacco.
  • Nigel King, employed since October 2021, allegedly received over $6,800 in bribes for smuggling marijuana, prescription pills, and alcohol.
  • Octavia Napier, employed from June 2022 to May 2023, allegedly accepted over $2,000 in bribes and allowed a resident to use her Cash App account to run a contraband distribution business.

These charges come less than two weeks after a rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall, where survivors of sexual abuse at juvenile detention centers, alongside Borough President Antonio Reynoso and local advocates, demanded reforms to address pervasive abuse within these facilities.

At the rally on June 13, Borough President Reynoso and other advocates specifically singled out the Crossroads Juvenile Center as one of the worst facilities plagued by systemic issues, citing numerous reports of abuse and corruption. Reynoso explained the need for immediate reforms at Crossroads, highlighting it as a central example of the pervasive problems within New York City’s juvenile detention system.

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