A Voice story posted online on Wednesday about a Rikers Island drug counselor busted for selling heroin and cocaine brought a strong reaction late Thursday from a Correction Department spokesman who sharply objected to any characterization that Correction officials were in any way indifferent to smuggling of contraband into the facility.
Though the original story noted it, Corrections Department spokesman Stephen Morello also emphasized that dela Rosa was not an employee of the Department of Correction, but a employee of a the private Prison Health Services, a company under contract to the Department of Health.
He denied any drugs were found in dela Rosa’s work area. He said a thorough search was performed following his arrest, and no drugs were recovered.
“There was no indication prior to his arrest that he was involved in drugs, and there was no indication either prior to or subsequent to his arrest that he ever brought drugs onto Rikers,” Morello told the Voice.
Morello could not provide further details on dela Rosa because technically the drug counselor was employed by PHS via the Department of Health.
Morello also objected to the Voice raising the question that the three-month delay between the cocaine sale and the heroin bust may have indicated that police were looking for other workers at the jail being involved. There’s no indication yet that such is the case, but police have yet to explain what took them so long to bust dela Rosa.
Dela Rosa was arrested, it should be noted, at 8:20 a.m. on a Sunday morning just outside the entrance to Rikers with the 105 packets of heroin hidden in his jacket pocket and two baggies of cocaine in his back pocket, records show. Three months earlier, he allegedly sold cocaine to an undercover police officer.