Rikers Guard Gets 6 Years in Prison in Beatings

A former Rikers Island jail guard was sentenced on Friday to six years in prison for orchestrating the beatings of teenage inmates.

Prosecutors had charged the guard, Lloyd Nicholson, 38, of Mount Vernon, N.Y., with gang assault and said he had ordered six inmates to beat two others in 2007 as part of a rogue disciplinary system that he and other guards called “The Program.” One of the beaten inmates, Michael Twiggs, suffered a punctured lung.

Justice Martin Marcus of State Supreme Court in the Bronx, who found Mr. Nicholson guilty in June in a nonjury trial, said Mr. Nicholson, along with other guards, had used inmates to enforce discipline. Justice Marcus also cited evidence that Mr. Nicholson had allowed inmates to extort commissary and telephone privileges from their peers.

At the sentencing on Friday morning, Justice Marcus told Mr. Nicholson that he had found his testimony “unbelievable and contrived.” After his release from prison, Mr. Nicholson must serve five years’ probation.

Michael T. Skelly, a spokesman for the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, said the union believed that Mr. Nicholson was innocent. The union, which represents 8,300 city guards, retains the Koehler & Isaacs legal firm, which defended Mr. Nicholson.

“We don’t think there is a ‘program,’ ” Mr. Skelly said. “It’s something the inmates concocted as a means for filing lawsuits to get better housing accommodation or monetary gain.”

Mr. Skelly noted that one of the teenage victims, Mr. Twiggs, had sued the city for $2 million and settled for $29,000. “Unfortunately,” Mr. Skelly said, “once one inmate sees another inmate be successful, they’re going to sue” the city and make false accusations.

At the Robert N. Davoren Center on Rikers Island, about 600 inmates ages 16 to 18 are housed, along with adult inmates in separate quarters. Three other guards from the center are scheduled to stand trial this fall.

Prosecutors say that two of them, Michael McKie of Brooklyn and Khalid Nelson of Staten Island, ran the center like an organized crime family. They have been charged with enterprise corruption and face up to 25 years in prison.

A third guard, Denise Albright, of Manhattan, was charged with assault and conspiracy, among other crimes.

In October 2008, an 18-year-old inmate at the Davoren Center, Christopher Robinson, was beaten to death by other inmates, the authorities have said.


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