Inmates busted after Instagram post from New York jail goes viral

Posted at 5:34 PM, Jan 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-05 17:34:39-05

NEW YORK — In an expletive-ridden cellphone video obtained by WPIX-TV, four inmates inside what sources say is a New York City jail boast about how they are able to film inside, among other things.

The video was posted on Dec. 19 to Normin McKenny's Instagram page, where it has been viewed over 14,000 times. Sources say the video was made inside the Manhattan Detention Complex in lower Manhattan, also known as The Tombs.

McKenny, an inmate in the Department of Correction system, also posted a picture of himself on Dec. 21 in his cell saying "top of the morning to you."

McKenny's records show he was arrested on Oct. 14, 2016 and charged with robbery, assault and possession of a weapon.

Sources tell WPIX that a correction officer found the video on Instagram and immediately became concerned, so they notified their supervisor.

That supervisor then instructed a search of the cell, which uncovered more than just a cellphone. They found two cellphones; a charger; four SIM cards; a blade; and a homemade shank.

After that discovery, the four inmates were transferred out of the Manhattan Detention Complex and sent back to Rikers Island.

The Correction Officer Benevolent Association's president, Elias Husamudeen, is praising the officer who alerted his supervisor.

"Here is an officer who clearly understood if they have phones, when I go work there — what else do they have that could endanger my life," Husamudeen said.

The story is similar to one WPIX reported in August 2016, when an inmate streamed live on Facebook from inside his cell, displaying a weapon.

In that case, the inmate says he walked his cellphone right in, claiming the metal detectors did not work properly.

In 2016, 41 cellphones were discovered, two more than in 2015.

The Department of Correction has focused its attention on illegal contraband like cellphones.

DOC records show that weapon finds were up 41 percent in the first 11 months of 2016, compared with the same period in 2015. There were 3,657 weapons confiscated compared with 2,587 from the previous year.

The department says efforts into improving surveillance around Rikers Island and a $1.2 million investment into new X-ray machines has helped reduce the flow of contraband.

However, they have yet to get ionizing body scanners like airports have due to state laws. It is something that the union and DOC agree is needed to fight the influx of contraband.

As for this case, Department of Correction spokesman Peter Thorne said: "This incident remains under investigation. The officers who reported the contraband are being recommended for Special Recognitions from Commissioner Ponte.''