VALHALLA, N.Y. — A Westchester County Corrections employee who allowed actor Omari Hardwick to take a picture with an inmate was suspended without pay on Tuesday, pending an internal investigation, according to Justin Pruyne, deputy commissioner of correction.
Pruyne said the department will also be reviewing its procedures related to filming. The employee's name wasn't released.
Hardwick, who plays James "Ghost" St. Patrick in the Starz series Power, was allowed to bring a cell phone into inmate Matthew Draper's jail cell to take a photo with him.
The photo has been posted on social media and circulated by rappers Tony Yayo and 50 Cent, who is Power's executive producer.
It was not immediately clear whether Hardwick was filming at the jail or there for another reason. The show's fourth season, which is being filmed now, begins with Hardwick's character in jail, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Contraband has been an issue at local jails and prisons, where authorities work to prevent visitors from smuggling banned items to inmates.
Contraband is also at the center of a federal corruption probe at Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover, Md., as reported earlier this month by The (Salisbury, Md.) Daily Times/Delmarva.com. At least 80 people, including 18 corrections officers, were indicted in late September for various roles in a conspiracy to smuggle drugs, tobacco and cellphones into the prison and transport cash outside, often at the behest of organized gangs.
A photo posted by Tony Yayo (@tonyyayo) on
Draper, 47, of Haverstraw, N.Y., is being held at the Westchester County jail while he faces federal drug charges following an arrest on Oct. 5 in Yonkers.
He was taken into custody after an undercover operation revealed his plans to import and distribute cocaine from the Dominican Republic, prosecutors said in court documents.
He spent multiple stints in state prisons on weapons convictions in the 1990s, according to the New York Department of Correction and Community Supervision.
Draper's lawyer, Javier Alberto Solano, wrote in an email to The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News/lohud.com: "I have no idea how that photograph came about."
"Certainly my client, as a prisoner, does not have the capability or means to take the photograph nor did he have anything to do with it being posted on social media," he added. "While I appreciate the well wishes from 50 Cent and others, I am concerned that somehow Matthew is going to be detrimentally affected by this."
Hardwick's representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.
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