NEW YORK — A federal prison guard was charged Tuesday with having an illegal affair with an inmate convicted in one of New York’s most notorious police killings, later becoming pregnant with his child.
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Nancy Gonzalez, 29, was arrested on charges she intentionally engaged in a sex act with Ronell Wilson while working the night shift at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. She became pregnant in June, a few months into the affair, according to court papers. Gonzalez appeared in court Tuesday visibly pregnant and crying, her hair pulled back in a ponytail, and was released on $150,000 bond.
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“She’s had a very tragic life,” said her attorney, Anthony Rico. “She has long-term issues that affected her life and judgment.”
Her family didn’t comment as a swarm of photographers and television cameras surrounded them outside federal court. Gonzalez buried her head in Rico’s shoulder while he spoke to reporters.
“These are very serious charges,” he said, adding he wouldn’t say whether Wilson pressured Gonzalez into the affair.
Gonzalez faces 15 years in prison if convicted.
Wilson, 30, was a young gang member on Staten Island when he was convicted in the point-blank shootings of undercover officers James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews in a 2006 illegal gun sting gone awry. The officers were both shot in the back of the head. Wilson was sentenced to death, but the sentence was thrown out in 2010 by an appeals court based on prosecutorial error.
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Wilson could still face death; a new jury will decide his fate. But the replay of the trial’s penalty phase has been put off as Wilson’s lawyers seek to convince a judge that he’s ineligible for the death penalty because he’s mentally disabled.
In November, a hearing was held on the claim, and a decision from Judge Nicholas Garaufis is pending, though it’s unclear if and how Gonzalez’s arrest will affect the motion.
Wilson was moved to solitary confinement in August while reports of the relationship were investigated.
According to court papers, Gonzalez was seen by other inmates going in and out of Wilson’s cell starting in March, meeting him in a vacant activity room next to his cell when other inmates were supposed to be sleeping.
The New York Daily News reports that, during Wilson’s 2007 trial for killing the undercover detectives, prosecutors introduced a letter he wrote to another inmate that read, “I just need a baby before this pigz try to take my life. I need to have something behind me.”
“I took a chance because I was so vulnerable and wanted to be loved and now I am carrying his child,” Gonzalez said, according to court papers.
She said she “kind of got sucked into his world,” and that she “felt like, well, why not give him a child as far as giving him some kind of hope.”
She confessed her relationship with Wilson to a different boyfriend, another inmate who had been under her supervision at the federal prison but is now housed at a state facility. She said it was over with Wilson, and that she was worried she would get into trouble.
After she became pregnant, Wilson’s mother made contact, requesting a sonogram photo, according to court papers. Gonzalez said she was worried about the calls because she feared authorities would catch her.
“I know what’s to come. I know what is going to be said about me,” she said, according to court papers. “How am I going to explain this to this little boy? Mommy was in the military … Mommy was a C.O., Mommy got wrapped up … And then the opposite end is with a person who took lives. So how do you explain that?”