Manhattan: Prison Imam Arrested for Trying to Smuggle in Utility Blades and Scissors
I’m sure he had good intentions. Uhm, probably just going to give the inmates a shave and haircut for free… Yeah, that’s the ticket… /sarcasm
Prison imam is busted – Smuggled blades’
By REUVEN BLAU and DAN MANGAN – NYPost
A Correction Department chaplain who once served 14 years for murder was arrested yesterday for carrying three utility blades and a pair of scissors into a lower Manhattan jail, authorities said.
Imam Zulqarnain Abdu-Shahid had the objects in his duffel bag when he arrived at the Manhattan Detention Complex in the morning, according to the city Department of Investigation.
They were found after an X-ray machine alerted officers to the presence of metal in the bag, the DOI said.
Sources said the blades were 1½ inches long by three-quarters of an inch wide.
Abdu-Shahid, 58, was charged with four counts of first-degree promoting prison contraband — a felony carrying a maximum seven-year prison term.
The Staten Island resident was held in lieu of $30,000 after arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court. His lawyer, James McQueeney, said the blades “were injector blades from an injector razor,” and that the imam was initially admitted into the jail, known as The Tombs, after officers accepted “his explanation that he didn’t know they were in” his bag.
But DOI Commissioner Rose Gil Hearn said, “Thanks to the immediate action of a DOC officer, this potentially dangerous situation was disarmed.”
Correction Commissioner Dora Schriro said Abdu-Shahid was immediately suspended.
“Additional steps, up to and including dismissal, will be pursued consistent with the findings of [the DOI],” said Schriro, who has ordered a review of the imam’s hiring.
Abdu-Shahid was hired as a chaplain by the DOC three years ago, and has an annual salary of $49,471.
Abdu-Shahid, then known as Paul Pitts, and three other men were convicted in 1979 of murder and robbery for the December 1976 holdup of a Harlem supermarket that left 30-year-old customer Philip Crawford dead from a bullet wound. Their trial was the longest in state Supreme Court history — one year, three months and three days.
Abdu-Shahid served 14 years of a 15-year-to-life prison term before being paroled in August 1993. A prior sex assault charge against him was dismissed before the murder case.
“He’s completely reformed,” said McQueeney.
But a city Correction source said, “It’s a disgrace that taxpayers are funding Muslim chaplains who not only have criminal records, but also are promoting violence.”
Abdu-Shahid’s boss — head chaplain Umar Abdul-Jalil — was hired by the DOC despite having done a 14-year prison stint for drug dealing.
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