send up the river

send (one) up the river

To sentence one to prison; to cause one to go to prison. A federal judge just sent the CEO up the river for 45 years for defrauding millions of customers. The mob boss ordered a hit on the detective who had sent his right-hand man up the river.
See also: river, send, up

send someone up the river

Fig. to send someone to prison. (Underworld. As done by a judge or indirectly by the police.) They tried to send me up the river, but my testimony got me off. I'm gonna send you up the river if it's the last thing I do.
See also: river, send, up