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Authorities: Man Impersonated Corrections Officer To Get Back Into Jails

Matthew Matagrano

Matthew Matagrano is charged with impersonating a corrections officer to get into multiple New York City jail facilities. (Credit: State of New York)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A former inmate who allegedly snuck back into Rikers Island by impersonating a corrections officer has now been admitted back to the jail on a permanent basis.

Matthew Matagrano, 36, of Yonkers was arraigned Saturday in Manhattan on charges of impersonating a Department of Correction investigator.

Officials said for at least a week, Matagrano pretended to be a corrections officer to get into Rikers Island, the Manhattan Detention Complex, and other facilities. He mingled with the inmates for hours once inside.

Investigators said this weekend that the case was still unfolding, but some of the allegations were detailed in a criminal complaint describing Matagrano’s entry into the Manhattan jail on Thursday.

It said that when questioned, Matagrano had admitted to arriving at the jail at around 3:30 p.m. and gaining entry by showing a gold shield and saying he was an investigator from the department’s intelligence unit.

According to the complaint, he stayed until 11 p.m., giving cigarettes to inmates and smoking with them in a common area. He was also charged with stealing a radio from an office while inside.

Surveillance cameras recorded video of Matagrano during the visit, the complaint said.

It was not clear if or when Matagrano would face similar charges for entry into other city jails. A spokesman for the Bronx district attorney, which often handles cases related to crimes committed on Rikers Island, said Saturday that he had no information on the case.

Matagrano has a rap sheet that includes a 1996 conviction for sodomy and sexual abuse with male victim under the age of 17. He is listed on the state’s sex offender registry.

It was not clear why Matagrano wanted to get into jails, but he had previously been caught posing as a Board of Education worker to enter two schools and rifle through student files. In 2004, he pleaded guilty to attempted burglary in connection with that case.

Matagrano’s court-appointed lawyer, Andrej Bajuk, couldn’t immediately be reached by phone for comment. No one responded to a message left at the public defender’s office that handled his arraignment.

Department of Correction representatives did not immediately return phone messages from The Associated Press on Saturday.

A judge set bail at $50,000 for Matagrano. He also faces charges of burglary, possession of forged instruments, larceny and promoting prison contraband. He was due back in court Wednesday.

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