A gangster rapper convicted of murder and facing a life term without the possibility of parole has died of a drug overdose at a high-security federal prison in Brooklyn, the Daily News has learned.
Michael Garrett, 40, the co-leader of a Brooklyn gang called Together Forever Mafia who also doubled as a hip-hop impresario, died at the Metropolitan Detention Center on Feb. 28.
A spokeswoman for the city medical examiner said Garrett’s death has been classified as “accidental,” due to cardiovascular disease with a contributing factor of an overdose of synthetic marijuana.
“I’m incredulous,” said Garrett’s former lawyer James Lisa after the Daily News informed him Friday of the autopsy results.
“He was in federal custody. That’s not like Rikers Island or a county facility.”
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons did not respond to questions about Garrett’s death or whether there is an investigation of how the drugs were smuggled inside the jail.
Cherie Nolan, a prison consultant, said it is unusual for an inmate in a federal jail to die of an illegal drug overdose, especially at a high-security facility like the Brooklyn lockup, where international terrorists are held, and where drug lord Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman will soon reside after he is extradited from Mexico.
“The feds usually do a good job of keeping contraband out,” Nolan said. “The security in place for people going into and out of facilities, and the performance of staff, has greatly improved.”
Last spring, before his trial in Brooklyn Federal Court, Garrett had tested positive for marijuana shortly after receiving a visit from his girlfriend, according to court papers. She was removed from his visitor’s list for a period of time. Garrett and co-defendant Paul Rivera were both convicted of racketeering, murder, sex trafficking of underage prostitutes and drug trafficking.
Prosecutors said the TF Mafia music operation, based in a tattoo parlor in Brownsville, was a front for illegal activities.
Rivera, the founder of TF Mafia, is scheduled to be sentenced June 28.
Since Garrett hadn’t been sentenced yet, Federal Judge Kiyo Matsumoto vacated his conviction posthumously and the restitution he had to pay his victims.
The government, in turn, removed the lien on a $55,000 settlement Garrett had received from a 2011 lawsuit against the city alleging he was falsely arrested, and the money will go to the dead man’s estate.