A former Rikers Island guard’s toxic love affair with an inmate will cost her nearly 2½ years of freedom, after she was caught smuggling contraband to her Bloods member beau.
Krystle Burrell, 36, sneaked two cell phones to Terrae Hinds, 30, in 2021, while he was locked up on Rikers on a gun case. Then, as she was awaiting sentencing, she found a way to smuggle even more contraband to him as a private citizen, according to federal prosecutors.
On Tuesday, a Brooklyn Federal Court judge sentenced her to 29 months behind bars.
In a teary-eyed admission, Burrell apologized to U.S. District Court Judge Kiyo Matsumoto and pleaded for forgiveness.
“I take full responsibility for my actions and I recognize my behavior was harmful. I’m so sorry I became involved in this venture and I am deeply remorseful for the choices that led me to this moment.”
Burrell’s lawyer, Kelley Sharkey, said her client was laid low by a lifetime of trauma and abuse, and when her fiancé, Jelan Moreira, was killed in 2018, she reached a breaking point.
Hinds preyed on her, “groomed” her and kept her under his thumb, Sharkey said.
“There were conversations about how difficult life was. There were multiple phone calls,” the defense lawyer said. “He told her she was pretty. He told her he loved her. He also beat her, punched her, knocked her out…. She didn’t have the ability to break free from Hinds.”
She also found herself working in the same building as her fiancé’s killer, despite her requests for a transfer, Burrell told the judge.
Matsumoto said she considered Burrell’s “very significant history of trauma,” her need for mental health treatment and the fact she has two young children, ages 6 and 7.
“I believe that those factors are outweighed by the seriousness of the offense,” the judge said.
Burrell was a six-year veteran of the city Correction Department when she slipped him the cell phones in 2021. She also helped Hinds sell contraband to other inmates, taking money on his behalf and accepting $9,780 in bribes.
They shared “I love yous” in phone conversations and talked explicitly about their sexual encounters, according to court filings by prosecutors. And when she was interviewed by investigators that July, she lied about her activities, claiming she only smuggled a phone because she was threatened.
Burrell was arrested in April 2022, and took a plea deal that September, but the relationship with Hinds continued, even after he was moved to the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
In November 2022, a cell phone found in Hinds’ cell revealed a lengthy text message back-and-forth between the couple about bribing an MDC guard $5,000 to smuggle in pot, smokes and alcohol.
A search found days of WhatsApp messages between Burrell and Hinds — including discussions about an illegal car rental business they ran together, and a plot to smuggle contraband into the MDC.
As part of the plot, Burrell dropped off money and marijuana to an address Hinds gave her last November, then got a text message from him that said, “Touchdown babe,” confirming the goods made it to the MDC.
In another scheme in July 2022, before her initial guilty plea, Burrell and an unidentified man went to one of Hinds’ court appearances for a gun case on the 15th floor of the Manhattan Supreme Court building.
The man accompanying Burrell made several trips to the bathroom, and Hinds tried, unsuccessfully, to convince law enforcement officials to let him use the toilet. Investigators searched the bathroom and found three balloons full of marijuana in a stall.
Hinds, who was sentenced to three years in prison for the gun charge that put him in Rikers to begin with, still faces sentencing in federal court for the contraband plot.