Legal Aid Caught Smuggling Weed Into NYC’s Rikers Island

If you’re trying to become a lawyer, sneaking contraband into Rikers Island isn’t the best way to get started.

The New York Post reports a Legal Aid Society staffer was busted for trying to smuggle weed and tobacco to a Rikers Island inmate. Thanks to a drug-sniffing dog, Tatyana King, who was posing as a lawyer, was charged with illegal possession of contraband in a prison.

King was arrested while trying to visit Shyanne Patterson, an inmate accused of attempted murder. Riders Island guards searched her belongings and found bags of marijuana and tobacco. GlobalVillageSpace legal-aid-staff-caught-smuggling-weed-into-rikers-posing-as-lawyer-sources/”>says she tricked correction officers last month and signed in as a staff lawyer for Legal Aid, New York’s largest nonprofit legal aid, while visiting inmates, however, King wasn’t assigned to Patterson’s case.

According to Legal Aid Society’s king&per=-1″>website, King is a law school graduate working for their criminal appeals bureau.

“This is truly a sad incident, which undermines all the hard work we are doing to stabilize this department after years of neglect by the previous administration,” Louis Molina, Correction Commissioner, said.

“An individual using the shield of legal privilege to traffic and distribute contraband and narcotics in our jails is despicable. This type of behavior places people in custody and our officers at risk.”

Lawmakers gathered for a press conference in March after a tour of the Rikers Island jail, calling on the city to address what they say is a “staffing and safety crisis” at the jail. They are calling for investments in corrections officers and security improvements and to also repeal the HALT act and make sexual assault of corrections officers a felony. (Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

During a press conference, praises were given to “Colt,” the K-9 unit dog who caught King, calling him the “most diligent and furriest of employees.” A spokesperson from the Legal Aid Society said King was a valued member of the team and had their support, but declined to specify why he was at Rikers Island in the first place.

King’s LinkedIn page says she graduated from New York Law School in 2022 last and has a “passion for advocacy for underrepresented and low-income communities.”

“My desire to effectuate change and promote client’s needs drive me in my legal career,” she wrote.

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