Scandal at Tompkins County youth detention facility

CNYcentral has learned of a scandal at a youth detention facility in Tompkins County, in which state employees are charged with supplying cell phones to inmates who reportedly used them to conduct crimes outside the facility.

This afternoon, 4 employees at the MacCormick Secure Center, which is located in a remote area south of Ithaca, were arraigned on felony charges of promoting prison contraband.

A tipster tells CNYcentral's Jim Kenyon the arrests are the result of a six month joint investigation by the Office of Children and Family Services and NYS Inspector General's Office.

The tipster says the four employees, Khrista Calcagno, David Brown, Patrick Clearwater, Frank Kennedy, are accused of supplying cell phones to at least one inmate. One inmate, 18 year old Julian Blazer is the alleged ringleader of the plot. A facebook page entitled Cateye Wayne, shows a photograph of Blazer inside his cell. That photo was reportedly taken by one of the cell phones smuggled into the detention facility. The facebook page also shows an image of Khrista Calcagno. Blazer was also charged with promoting prison contraband on October 26th and had since been removed from MacCormick.

Mandatory not guilty pleas for the four employees were ordered by Town of Caroline Justice Harold Phoenix. They were released on their own recognizance.

Officials at the MacCormick Secure Center refused comment and referred us to their press office in Albany. The Office of the New York Inspector General issued a news release Tuesday afternoon.

Sources tell Kenyon the investigation is far from over and more arrests are pending.

The MacCormick Secure Center is designed to handle youthful offenders who have committed violent felonies while under the age of 16. It is run by the Office of Children and Family Services, which provides counseling, education, and other services to the offenders until they reach the age of 21 when they are often put into adult prison facilities.

Read a press release from the the NY State Inspector General (PDF)