TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced charges against a fourth correctional police officer in the ongoing criminal investigation of an incident in which inmates were assaulted and seriously injured at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in the early morning of Jan. 12, 2021.  Three other correctional police officers were charged on Feb. 4.

Sgt. Matthew D. Faschan, 33, of Hackettstown, N.J., a suspended correctional police officer, was charged by complaint-summons with two counts of second-degree official misconduct and one count of third-degree tampering with public records or information. 

The charges were filed in an ongoing joint investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office, conducted with the assistance of the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) Special Investigations Division.

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“As I stated earlier this month, we will follow the evidence in this case wherever it leads and we will not rest until all of those responsible for these brutal attacks— at any level of the prison’s hierarchy— are held accountable,” said Attorney General Grewal. “That includes all those involved in planning and covering up these horrific acts.”

“Despite officers filing false reports and failing to properly videotape all of the cell extractions that took place, as required by Department of Corrections policies, we will not be deterred from identifying all of those responsible for these assaults,” said OPIA Director Thomas Eicher. “We urge anyone with information to call us at 1-844-OPIA-TIPS.”

Between approximately 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 11 and 1:15 a.m. on Jan. 12, a number of DOC officers and supervisors assigned to the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility (EMCF) in Clinton, N.J., conducted forced cell extractions of inmates located in the Restorative Housing Unit (RHU) complex. Sgt. Matthew Faschan was one of the correctional police officers involved in the forced cell extractions. He was assigned to video record the inmate cell extractions.

The complaint against Faschan alleges the following conduct:

Victim 1

Shortly after 1 a.m., video shows Victim 1 in her cell in the RHU complex. While in her cell, Victim 1 appears to throw an unknown white liquid substance out of her cell into the hallway of the RHU complex. A short time later, video surveillance shows that a team of DOC officers, including Sgt. Faschan, arrived outside Victim 1’s cell. Sgt. Faschan was assigned to record Victim 1’s extraction and can be seen holding a video camera

Victim 1 immediately complied with a request to offer her hands through the food port of her cell door to be handcuffed and was handcuffed. Thereafter, Victim 1 begged officers not to harm her prior to their entry into Victim 1’s cell. Despite this, a cell extraction was undertaken, and five corrections officers entered Victim 1’s cell after she was handcuffed and proceeded to forcibly remove her from her cell. Victim 1 was given no opportunity to comply, despite her submitting voluntarily to being handcuffed and restrained. During the forced extraction, one or more corrections officers repeatedly struck Victim 1 with their fists, although Victim 1 was handcuffed and not resisting, in violation of clearly established DOC policies. 

Despite being responsible for recording the extraction and possessing a video camera, it is alleged that Sgt. Faschan purposely did not record the extraction, in violation of clearly established  DOC policies. 

Sgt. Faschan subsequently submitted an official report in which he allegedly falsely claimed that he filmed Victim 1 inflicting injuries upon herself. No such video exists. By filing a false report, it is alleged that Sgt. Faschan intended to deceive others within the DOC to justify the otherwise impermissible forced cell extraction of Victim 1 and to cover up Victim 1’s injuries by falsely claiming that they were self-inflicted.

Victim 2

Sgt. Faschan was also assigned to film the extraction of Victim 2. Pepper spray was deployed into Victim 2’s cell. While Victim 2 was not handcuffed at the time, the correctional police officers conducting the extraction did not give Victim 2 time to comply following their deployment of pepper spray, as required by clearly established DOC policies. Rather, the officers immediately entered Victim 2’s cell to forcibly remove her. During the extraction, Officer Luis Garcia (previously charged on Feb. 4) struck Victim 2 in the face with a closed fist approximately 28 times, even though Victim 2 was not resisting. Victim 2 sustained injuries during the cell extraction, including a concussion.

It is alleged that Sgt. Faschan did not intervene to stop his fellow officers’ improper use of force, all in violation of clearly established DOC polices that only allow for the objectively reasonable and necessary use of force. Despite his role as a recording sergeant of the extraction team, his presence in Victim 2’s cell, and his observation of the extraction, it is also alleged that Sgt. Faschan failed to report the unauthorized use of force against an inmate, who was not resisting, also in violation of clearly established DOC polices.

On Feb. 4, 2021, Correctional Police Officer Luis Garcia, Sgt. Amir Bethea, and Sgt. Anthony Valvano were charged as follows by complaint-summons:

Correctional Police Officer Luis (aka Lisandro) A. Garcia, 23, Nutley, N.J.

  • Aggravated Assault (2nd Degree)
  • Official Misconduct (2nd Degree)
  • Tampering with Public Records or Information (3rd Degree)

Sgt. Amir E. Bethea, 35, Springfield, N.J.

  • Official Misconduct (Two Counts, 2nd Degree)
  • Tampering with Public Records or Information (Two Counts, 3rd Degree)

Sgt. Anthony J. Valvano, 38, Bound Brook, N.J.

  • Official Misconduct (2nd Degree)
  • Tampering with Public Records or Information (3rd Degree)

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The second-degree official misconduct charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without possibility of parole. The second-degree aggravated assault charge carries a mandatory term of parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the sentence imposed. The third-degree charge of tampering with public records or information carries a sentence of three to five years in prison, including a mandatory two-year term of parole ineligibility, and a fine of up to $15,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.