Inmate's Pa. prison selfies prompt investigation

Lackawanna County officials are investigating how an inmate at the county prison obtained a cellphone

By Terrie Morgan-Besecker
The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.

LACKAWANNA COUNTY, Pa. — Lackawanna County officials are investigating how an inmate at the county prison obtained a cellphone, which he used to post selfies purportedly taken inside his prison cell to his Facebook page.

Jeffrey Mattox, a federal prison inmate from Kentucky, brazenly uploaded dozens of photos in 19 posts he made to the social networking website from Jan. 1 through Feb. 2, a review of his Facebook page shows.

The posts include four selfies that depict him inside a prison cell, including one that shows a bare-chested Mattox with the caption “This is 170 lbs of twisted steel and sex appeal.”

The photo elicited comments from multiple friends, who complimented him on his looks.

“You go boyyy,” commented one friend.

“Looking great baby,” said another.

The other selfies show Mattox looking at the camera in what appears to be the same cell. In one of the photos, the cell window is visible.

Cellphones are considered contraband and are not permitted in prison.

In a written statement, Joseph D’Arienzo, spokesman for Lackawanna County, said the prison was made aware of Facebook selfies that were “ostensibly made from the inside of the prison.”

“In response, the prison staff did conduct a search of the prison and contraband was found,” D’Arienzo said.

Citing the ongoing investigation, D’Arienzo declined to answer other questions, including when the search was conducted or identify what contraband was found. Sources familiar with the incident say several cellphones were confiscated during the searches, which occurred last month.

Lackawanna County Commissioner Jerry Notarianni said he knew nothing about Mattox’s posts until told by a reporter Friday.

“How the hell did they do that?” Notarianni said. “This clearly is not a good thing. I’m in shock.”

Attempts to reach Commissioners Patrick O’Malley and Laureen Cummings were unsuccessful.

Court records show Mattox was sentenced in federal court in Kentucky in January 2011 to 15 years in prison for his guilty plea to taking part in a drug ring that distributed crack cocaine in Bourbon County, Kentucky, between 2009 and 2010.

Mattox was transferred to the Lackawanna County jail to await trial on charges he and another man beat a fellow inmate at the U.S. Penitentiary at Canaan in Wayne County, where he was serving his federal sentence. He was indicted in that case on Jan. 17, 2017. He has been at the county prison since Jan. 25, 2017, according to the prison.

Mattox’s Facebook account, which was still active as of Friday evening, shows he joined the site in March 2015 — four years after he went to prison — and has 792 friends.

In his posts, he casually chats with dozens of family members and friends about a variety of issues.

In a post made on Jan. 7, Mattox added six photos that appear to show him prior to his incarceration.

“I’m tired of everyone talking about all I have on here is prison pictures,” he says in the comments section.

Mattox was especially active Jan. 20, interacting with dozens of people through seven posts he made between 6:34 p.m. and 11:42 p.m. The posts begin with a selfie depicting him sitting next to a window in his cell.

In one post a friend tries to give him encouragement.

“Hang in there, not too much longer,” the friend says.

“Yes ma’am,” Mattox replies. “Feel free to text or call when you feel like it ... ”

In posts later that day, he talks with another friend about how it would be nice to do a video chat with her and jokes with a different friend who asks him if he is “on a selfie kick now?”

“Nah just had to bless the world and give them what they been missing,” Mattox replied.

His mood turned somber later that day when replying to another friend who talks about how Mattox used to love playing Super Mario Brothers.

“I am burnt out these damn people have had me locked up for so long but it is what it is I will be home one day as of now 2025,” he said.

In a Jan. 28 post, Mattox tells a friend he will try to call her, but may not be able to because he’s having trouble getting his cellphone charged.

In his final post made at 10:32 p.m. on Feb. 2, he added two photos of his son and a woman. He also added a short video of his son wishing him a happy birthday.

The majority of posts were made from the Lackawanna County prison. There are two posts from 2015 that include photos of Mattox and other inmates in a prison setting. It’s not clear at what prison the photos were taken or whether it was a state or federal prison. In a comment on one of the photos, Mattox indicates he was in Colorado at the time.

In an email, a spokesperson for the federal bureau of prisons said they are looking into the matter.

©2018 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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