NASSAU COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- A former nurse manager and former inmate at Nassau County Correctional Center appeared in court Thursday, accused of promoting prison contraband and conspiracy.
Yasmin Talbot, 48, had the second highest ranking position at the jail.
It's alleged that she was having a secret relationship with Christopher Wright, 37, on a plan to get him a ceramic knife while he was an inmate at the facility.
"Our investigation began when we realized that she was abusing that power that she had," said Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly.
Authorities say Talbot had numerous inappropriate and unauthorized conversations with Wright during hundreds of calls, in which they discussed Talbot bringing contraband into the jail and funding Wright's commissary account with a fictitious name. Talbot also allegedly gave Wright housing locations of inmates.
Prosecutors say she even brought a ceramic blade into the jail for Wright.
"It betrays the public trust, it circumvents our measures in stopping contraband from coming in, that's a very sharp blade that could've caused a lot of damage," said Lt. Mark Curatolo with the Nassau County Sheriff's Department
The deadly weapon was found on Wright a month later during a body scan. Investigators say without Wright's cooperation, they went through his previously recorded phone calls.
That is when they discovered that Talbot was involved.
Her attorney spoke briefly outside of court.
"Mrs. Talbot vehemently denies the allegations against her in this indictment," defense attorney Anthony Grandinette said. "She looks forward to clearing her reputation and she would hope the community affords her the presumption of innocence and the due process that she deserves and that's all we have for today."
Talbot was arraigned on grand jury indictment charges of first-degree promoting prison contraband, two counts of offering a false instrument for filing, two counts of falsifying business records, three counts of official misconduct, and conspiracy. She pleaded not guilty, and bail was set at $500 cash, $5,000 bond, and $5,000 partially secured bond.
She was suspended in August during the investigation and resigned in September. She started working at a nursing home in Hempstead before she was arrested Wednesday.
"She's a person who is a public official in power and to use that pose to put others in danger, her own staff, the jail staff and other inmates is unfathomable," Donnelly said.
On a pending case for aggravated DWI with a child, Talbot was remanded. She is due back in court on January 9. If convicted, Talbot faces a maximum of up to 2-1/3 to 7 years in prison.
Wright was previously indicted for promoting prison contraband. He is also charged with official misconduct and conspiracy. Wright pleaded not guilty, and bail was $5,000 cash, $10,000 bond, and $50,000 partially secured bond. If convicted, Wright faces a maximum of up to 3-1/2 to 7 years in prison. He is due back in court on January 8.
"Let this be a warning to others that might consider bringing contraband into the correctional center. We will not tolerate anyone endangering the safety of the facility and anyone who does, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The safety and security of this correctional center, its staff, and the inmates are of the utmost importance," Nassau County Sheriff Anthony La Rocco said.