Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that Joseph Mastriani, 32, of Bloomfield was sentenced to five years in New Jersey State Prison by the Honorable Michael L. Ravin, J.S.C., for his role in a criminal scheme to smuggle drugs, cell phones and other contraband into the Essex County Correctional Facility.
“When a corrections officer smuggles narcotics, cell phones and other contraband into a corrections facility, he not only violates his oath but he puts innocent people at grave risk. This kind of criminal activity cannot be tolerated,’’ said First Assistant Prosecutor Robert Laurino.
On November 18, 2011, Mastriani pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree official misconduct. Under the terms of the plea agreement, he must first serve five years in prison before he is eligible for parole.
An Essex County Corrections Officer for nine years, Mastriani was the mastermind behind a $1,000-a-week smuggling operation that brought narcotics and cell phones into the jail. Inmates would pay Mastriani up to $500 for the items. He was taken into custody on July 29, 2010 following a five-month investigation dubbed “Operation Jail Breach.”
In addition to Mastriani, his girlfriend, Jill Watral, 33, was sentenced today to two years probation and required to forfeit her job as a school teacher at Washington Academy in Cedar Grove. Two other defendants, Wilbert Best and Ricardo Ortiz, who are currently incarcerated and each serving 13 year sentences, were sentenced today to three years for their role in the smuggling scheme.