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Badfellas

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BROOKLYN: Whether slicking back their coiffures with specially-delivered styling gel, dining on expensive Italian takeout, shooting up with heroin or browsing through police case files for the names of ôratsö (translation: informers), mobsters incarcerated at Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center had only to ask their prison guards for whatever they desired. Terming the situation one of the worst corruption cases in U.S. prison history, federal officials brought charges against 11 guards and nine civilian prison employees for serving as a pay-as-you-go conduit between jailed gangsters and their associates on the outside. One prison guard, weighed down with a back-breaking assortment of eggplants, olives and veal cutlets for a member of the Luchese crime family, "looked like Santa Claus bringing his bags of goodies into the prison," recalled a witness cited in the "Operation Badfellas" probe. The correction officers also allowed convicted mafiosi to hold secret meetings with their partners visiting from outside to plan crimes. If convicted of bribery, the guards and civilian employees could face up to 15 years behind bars, without eggplant, and a $250,000 fine.