Daily News
DA cuts up jail guard razor rap - Took grooming tool to work
BY REUVEN BLAU
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS


THE BRONX district attorney's office has dropped felony charges against a correction officer who was accused of trying to smuggle a razor-edged tool into Rikers Island.

Charlie Bracey, 47, of Queens, was arrested after officers found a multitool wrapped in black electrical tape inside his backpack on Oct.10.

Bracey insisted he forgot he was carrying the tool when he came to work -- and that he never intended to sell itto inmates.

He got the tool as part of a subscription to Birchbox, an online service that sends customers several grooming items each month. The multitool was part of a promotion for the movie "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."in September.

Bracey said he used the gadget as a can opener and wrapped the bottom in black tape because it began to tear. Crooked officers and inmates often use tape to prevent weapons from being spotted by metal detectors.

Before he was screened coming to work, Bracey complained to officers manning the metal detectors about new stringent checks. "I really believe the rant I went on had some thing to do with it," he said."You bruise people's egos when you challenge what they are doing."

The Correction Department captain on duty told him to just bring the tool back to his car. But a Department of Investigation boss at the scene took the offense more seriously, photographing the tool and ordering his arrest. Bracey spent a night in Bronx central booking before a judge released him on his own recognizance.

"I was in denial," he recalled. "I didn't want to believe it was happening."

At home, his wife of 16 years, Lillian, scrambled to assess their finances. "She was a rock," he said. "She came up with a plan of action for what we hoped would be ashort period of unemployment."

Bracey was his family's sole support of the family. His wife takes care of the couple's autistic daughter, Genesis,7.

Correction colleagues took up a collection and Bracey's in-laws and siblings helped out with the mounting bills. "I was lucky in this situation to have such a strong family," he said.

On Monday, after two meetings with Bronx prosecutors, the case was dismissed. Bronx DA spokeswoman Terry Raskyn declined to detail why the case was tossed other than "there would not have been enough evidence to prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt."

Charles Bracey's lawyer hailed the decision. "The only one who wanted him arrested was DOI," said attorney David Kirsch, 36.

DOI has been behind the arrest for discipline of more than 50 officers since 2014 as the city desperately tries to stop the smuggling of contraband in to jails, records show.

"They are trying to fight certain systemic issues that have been going on for years," Kirsch said. "He was the unfortunate victim of a press release."

The Department of Investigation "stands behind the facts referred to the Bronx district attorney," said spokeswoman Diane Struzzi. "As the prosecuting authority, they are the appropriate entity to comment on decisions regarding prosecution of the case."Bracey has been notified by the Correction Department that he will be reinstated within the next few days. But he may still face departmental charges, where the bar is lower than that of criminal court."I'm very much looking forward to going back to work," Bracey said.