Lab Tech in Coke Arrest Was Hired Despite Prior Conviction for Same Charge

Timothy Hawkins at the 2017 gala banquet at York College. Photo credit: Verity Rollins

By Greis Torres


The former York Lab Technician who pled guilty in September for selling cocaine on campus was previously convicted of the same charge back in 1999.

Timothy Hawkins was arrested in January of 2018 for selling cocaine on campus and was charged with 13 felony charges and one misdemeanor.

On Sept. 11 Hawkins pled guilty and received a year in jail and another year on probation. He was also convicted of third degree criminal sale of controlled substance and got his driver’s license suspended.

But Department of Corrections records show that a man with the same name and birth date as Hawkins was also convicted with the same charge of controlled substance possession in December of 1999. The man’s sentence expired in November, 2002. Hawkins joined the full-time staff at York in the Health & Physical Education department in 2008.

According to CUNY, criminal history background checks are required for current and future employees.

The City University of New York and the constituent colleges and units of the University are required to recruit, employ, retain, and promote employees in a manner that promotes a safe and secure environment for its students, faculty, staff, and other members of the University community, and that protects the University’s assets and resources,” said Sabrina Johnson Chandler, the executive director of human resources at York. “As a result, York College performs background verifications on newly-hired employees in accordance with University Policy and in compliance with applicable provisions of collective bargaining agreements.”

Human resources and legal affairs officials declined to comment on Hawkins’ cases citing that, “In all personnel matters, including hiring, York College complies with its obligations under the New York City Human Rights Law and related statutes under Federal and New York State law, which govern employer-employee relationships. We are unable to disclose information regarding the specifics of any individual personnel matter except where required by law.”

Hawkins, who is currently in custody at the Watertown Correctional Facility, previously served time in the Moriah Shock Correctional Facility in 1999. He was released on parole in July of 2000.

He and his alleged supplier, Barry Salter, were the subjects of a nine-month surveillance operation by the New York City Police Department and District Attorney Richard Brown’s office that began in April 2017 that culminated in Hawkins’ second arrest.

On multiple occasions Hawkins left York campus with cops posing as drug buyers and went to Salter’s home to buy cocaine, then returned to campus, according to a press release by District Attorney Richard Brown’s office.  

On two occasions, Hawkins allegedly conducted sales on campus grounds near the Queens High School for the Sciences.

During a search of Salter’s home, police seized two kilos of cocaine, two digital scales, a money counter, and $2,000 in cash.

Many people who worked with Hawkins at York claimed that they never suspected he was conducting drug sales on campus.

“In regards to what went on, there was nobody here coming back and forth or anything like that,” said John Baxter, the director of aquatics, recreation and intramurals at the health and physical education building. “That’s why we were all shocked to find out about it. He was very helpful, a good worker and always here early.”   

Hawkins was held for four months without bail after being taken into custody last January. He had six court appearances before he was arraigned, and his case was transferred to the Supreme Court.

According to Baxter, Hawkins called him at the end of the Spring 2018 semester and told him that he was innocent.

“I think he saw the information in the newspapers, and he said they are putting it out like I’m a monster because of his position as a college lab technician,” said Baxter who never heard from him again after that call. “I think it was the Daily News. They made it seem like he was cooking because there was a lab, but it’s nothing like that. His job duty was to primarily set up equipment.”  

Hawkins got an arraignment and a plea hearing on July 11, where he waived his right to appeal for his felony charges in a Superior Court information.

After getting his sentencing pushed back twice, Hawkins received the promised sentence of one year and one year post-release on his right to appeal waiver at the Queens Supreme Court. He had a surcharge of $300 and a $25 assistance fee.       

Hawkin’s lawyer, David Jeffries declined to comment.

“I believe him,” said Baxter. “Maybe there was an involvement, running around with the wrong people. If I see him again, I’ll smack him for being stupid.”


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