Molester saw pupils’ files: DA

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Matthew Matagrano, 28, of Jackson Heights was arrested May 5, the day after he allegedly entered the Renaissance Charter School at 35-59 81st St. and PS 212 at 34-25 82nd St.

In both cases Matagrano wore a Department of Education ID badge around his neck and told officials he was an inspector for quality assurance, the DA said. The ID card was issued by the Department of Education but was fraudulently obtained, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Matagrano was arraigned Friday on charges of burglary, forgery, attempted burglary and criminal impersonation in connection with the school incidents.

At the arraignment, Queens County Criminal Court Justice Robert Raciti ordered Matagrano held without bail and set a return date of May 20, a spokesman for the DA said.

If convicted, Matagrano faces up to seven years in jail, the DA said.

At the Renaissance School, Matagrano reviewed 11 students' confidential records after spending about three hours at the school, Brown said.

Principal Monte Joffee said Matagrano allegedly spent most of his time on computers used by students and only shifted his attention to the confidential records during the final minutes of his three-hour visit to the school.

"He briefly glanced through the files," Joffee said of Matagrano, adding that "he definitely didn't copy anything."

Joffee said the school notified the parents of the school's 485 students by phone immediately after it was discovered that Matagrano was not an employee of the Department of Education. He said he understood that parents were concerned, but thhe principal stressed that the school took quick action that led to Matagrano's arrest.

"Our school is the one that stopped him," Joffee said.

When Matagrano allegedly began reviewing student health records, a staff member noticed that he was unfamiliar with the school-mandated immunization requirements for the students, Joffee said. The school called the Education Department and then the police, he said.

At PS 212, Matagrano was reportedly turned away by the principal after he said he was from the Education Department's quality assurance division and needed to check on the school's stores of student record supplies and computer software, the DA said.

"The charges are serious and reflect a threat to the privacy and safety of children," Brown said.

In 1995, Matagrano, then 19, pleaded guilty to charges of sexually molesting a disabled 15-year-old Manhattan boy, according to law enforcement sources.

Matagrano was sentenced to 1 1/2 to three years in prison on charges of first-degree sexual abuse and sodomy, according to state Corrections Department records. Matagrano was paroled in November 1997, the records showed.

Matagrano also did a stint in state prison from April 1998 to May 2001 on charges of grand larceny, state records indicate.

Brown said Matagrano was classified by the New York City Police Department Sex Offender Monitoring Unit as a Level III sex offender at the time of the school break-in.

The Level III classification is reserved for abusers who are most likely to repeat their crimes. Level III sex offenders have the highest rates of recidivism.

Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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