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Inmate sneaks back into Rikers Island


Rikers Island former inmate sneaks back into the jail to pose as a corrections officer.


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A law enforcement source close to the ongoing investigation into Matthew Matagrano’s illegal jaunt through Rikers Island jail now tells Pix11 the accused impersonator was able to successfully transfer at least one inmate from one unit to another — all while pretending to be a New York City Correction investigator.

This is significant because up to this point, Correction officials initially confirmed Matagrano only tried, but failed to move inmates within the facility.

Investigators are also working to determine if whether one the most significant security breaches in the history of Rikers Island was committed by a man who simply wanted to see if he could get away with it…or by someone working with a criminal enterprise, under more sinister circumstances.


The department may still be trying to figure that out, but it’s sure about one thing.

Department spokesman Matthew Nerzig strongly refutes claims by Correction Officers Benevolent Association president Norman Seabrook.

Seabrook says Matagrano’s handful of unauthorized visits to supposedly security facilities – while armed with an official ID, shield, and radio…are the result of budget cuts made under Commissioner Dora Schiro’s watch.

“During her tenure as Commissioner, the Department of Corrections has seen a net increase of more than 290 uniformed staff on the job – at the same time that the inmate population has dropped by 8 percent over the same period of time”, said Nerzig.

PIX11- Before his arrest Friday night, Matthew Matagrano, a convicted Level 3 sex offender and seasoned impersonator, always seemed to be one step ahead of law enforcement.

When Police came to arrest him at this 2nd floor Yonkers apartment Friday night, for breaching security at Rikers Island Jail, a neighbor tells Pix11’s the arresting officers had no clue Matagrano had already moved out  last month.

Matagrano made no secret of his plans announcing the move on his Facebook page.

But that seems to be the way he rolled hiding in plain sight.

Matagrano’s already been convicted for impersonating a New York City Department of Education official and was convicted in the 1990s of raping a teenage boy.

But prosecutors say Matagrano, posing as a Correction investigator, successfully snuck his way into secure facilities.

He also sneaked into the Robert N. Davoren Detention Center on Riker Island, which houses more than 22-hundred teenage boys.

New York City Department of Correction Commissioner Dora Schiro told Pix11:

“We are determined to get to the bottom of the matter — and we will. The same high level effort by the DOC workforce that led to Matagrano’s speedy apprehension and arrest is being fully directed on making sure this can never happen again.”

RIKERS ISLAND (PIX11)- Concern is growing over the security, or lack thereof, on Rikers Island.

A former inmate somehow managed to get past security checkpoints, gain access into the building and even speak to some inmates.

He posed as a corrections officer using a fake shield and ID card.

The 36-year-old convicted sex offender did this not once, but several times in one week.

The security breach poses a bigger question, could weapons slip through the cracks and make their way into jails?

According to Norman Seabrook, the President of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, the lack of security is a direct result of spending cuts made by the Department of Corrections.

Seabrook says he has never seen a breach this bad during his time with COBA.

He mostly blames the mayor and his lack of concern of safety of inmates as well as New Yorkers as a whole.

Rikers Island is an isolated complex – comprised of 10 jails for men, women, and juveniles. It’s supposed to be one of the most secure facilities in New York City, but PIX11 news has learned exclusively that one man was able to breach several levels of security at Rikers – and New York City department of correction officials say they don’t even know how long it’s been happening.

New York City Correction officials confirm what a source tells Pix11 exclusively – that 36-year old Matthew Matagrano of Yonkers was able to successfully sneak into Rikers Island Jail while impersonating a Department of Correction employee.

Our source tells us Matagrano had an official Department of Correction radio, ID-card, and shield — and came into contact with “numerous inmates.”

Pix11 has also learned Matagrano started doing things inside the jail that ultimately tipped off guards that something was off.

How was he caught?

Department of Correction Matt Nerzig spokesman says:

“Mr. Matagrano was apprehended at Bronx courthouse late this afternoon upon claiming to be a NYC Dept. Of Correction Investigator. Upon learning Thursday evening of Mr. Matagrano’s impersonation of a NYC Dept. of Correction employee, and his unauthorized access to a DOC facility, the Department of Correction within hours was able to identify the individual through surveillance cameras. The apprehension this afternoon of Mr. Matagrano occurred within 24 hours of when the dept. learned of the situation. “

This tremendous breach of security is troubling on several levels, and raises the obvious question: if Matagrano was able to sneak into Rikers and come into contact with inmates, was there anything stopping him from enabling an inmate to escape?

What we do know is that this isn’t Matagrano’s first performance.

He was convicted back in 2004 for impersonating a New York City Department of Education official in order to illegally enter two public schools and look at confidential student files.

Matagrano has been in and out of prison since the mid-nineties…and was branded a Level-3 sex offender.

The Correction Officers Benevolent Association – the union that represents the guards and employees who charged with locking down Riker’s Island…and who clearly failed to keep Matagrano out, did not return our repeated calls for comment.