A Muslim chaplain for the city's jails was arrested Wednesday, charged with trying to smuggle three razor blades and a pair of scissors into a lockup.
Imam Zul-Qarnain Abdu-Shahid, 58, of Staten Island, was arrested at the Manhattan Detention Complex on several charges, including four counts of promoting prison contraband in the first degree, a felony. Hours later, he made his initial court appearance on the charges but did not enter a plea. He was being held on $50,000 bond or $30,000 cash.
James M. McQueeney, his defense attorney, said there was no evidence to believe that his client knew that the items were in his bag when he went to work earlier that day.
"He has the lifestyle of a very stable person," said McQueeney, adding that his client had a wife and three children.
The Department of Investigation said in a statement that Abdu-Shahid was arrested while entering the jailhouse, known as the Tombs, when a duffel bag he had brought with him triggered an alarm from the X-ray machine. An officer discovered the contraband inside the bag and Abdu-Shahid was taken into custody wearing long, blue robes and a Muslim skullcap, the DOI said.
Abdu-Shahid served 14 years in state prison, from 1979 to 1993, after being convicted along with three other men in the fatal shooting of a man during a robbery, said Erik Kriss, a spokesman with the state Department of Correctional Services. His alias was Paul Pitts, Kriss said.
He was arrested on Dec. 9, 1976, and convicted of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery, DOCS said. He was on parole until 2001.
Abdu-Shahid's attorney said his client had "has completely reformed his life."