Alleged jail smuggling head pleads not guilty

July 31, 2010 11:38:01 AM PDT
The corrections officer accused of leading a smuggling ring at the Essex County Jail has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and official misconduct charges.

Joseph Mastriani, a nine-year corrections department veteran, was among 13 people arrested Thursday in connection with the alleged ring. The 30-year-old Nutley man entered his plea Friday and remains jailed on $200,000 bail.

Officials say Mastriani is being held at a facility outside the county for safety reasons. If he does attempt to post bail, he will have to prove the funds came from a legitimate source.

County prosecutors say the ring supplied inmates with everything from narcotics to cell phones.

Two inmates allegedly took orders from other prisoners and passed the requests along to Mastriani and another corrections officer. They would then send word to others outside the prison, who would buy the requested items.