NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Three lawyers and a paralegal in Manhattan are accused of bribing a court employee with the New York City Criminal Justice Agency in exchange for persuading arrestees to retain their services.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced the indictment Monday of defense attorneys Jae Lee, Benjamin Yu, and Dwane Smith as well as paralegal Jose Nunez on charges of second- and third-degree bribery, fourth-degree conspiracy and rewarding official misconduct in the second degree.

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It was a scheme Vance said compromised the justice system, 1010 WINS’ Kevin Rincon reported.

“These lawyers are accused of bribing a court employee to steer clients to them, behavior that broke the lawyers’ oaths and undermined the integrity of our court system,” Vance said. “The criminal justice system should be built on an even playing field – not one where insiders abuse their positions for profit.”

Vance said an employee at the agency turned state’s evidence against attorneys trolling for affluent clients arrested for offenses like DWI, and low-level drug possession, handing out business cards while suspects were still in custody, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.

“He’d been directed to distribute cards only to certain types of arrestees, namely individuals who seemed to fit the profile of a person who could afford a private attorney, trying to get them out of jail and to arraignment quickly,” Vance said.

According to the first indictment, between August 2013 and September 2014, the court employee would text Smith a potential client’s information following the interview and then use his position in the courts to steer the arrestee to hire Smith.

Meanwhile between September 2013 and September 2014, the same court employee also texted Nunez, a paralegal for Yu and Lee, an arrestee’s information and persuade them to hire Yu or Lee, the second indictment said.

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Smith is accused of paying the court employee on a case-by-case basis in amounts ranging between $200 and $1,000, the DA’s office said. Nunez is accused of paying similar amounts on behalf of Yu and Lee.

The fact that the unnamed employee has not been charged is strong indication the DA’s office is not finished looking for bribe takers, Young reported.

“A bribery was paid to someone inside the system to tell arrestees they would get special treatment,” Vance said, adding when asked if there are other people who have accepted money, “Well, the investigation is ongoing. It’ll be a continuing investigation.”

Vance said the court employee steered about 100 clients to the lawyers and received about $40,000 in exchange, Rincon reported.

Vance would not name the court worker, who is considered a cooperating witness and hasn’t been charged.

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