He might still have the cell phone, had it not been for the selfies.
A federal inmate being held at the Lackawanna County Prison in Pennsylvania secretly had a contraband cell phone that he was using to upload pictures of himself taken inside the prison, the Scranton Times-Tribune reports.
“This is 170 lbs of twisted steel and sex appeal,” Jeffrey Mattox wrote on Facebook on Jan. 25, along with a shirtless picture of himself that appears to be taken behind bars.
Friends on the outside didn’t hesitate to respond.
“Looking great baby,” one commented on the photo.
Cell phones are prohibited in prison, but they’re a growing problem — particularly in southern states like South Carolina, where prison guards have confiscated one cell phone for every three prisoners, NBC reports. But traditionally, the concern over cell phones has more to do with their usefulness in planning escapes or ordering murders than with the potential for inmates to post shirtless pictures.
Beyond posting selfies, Mattox wrote on Facebook that he used the phone to communicate with friends and family. When one friend wrote “hang in there, not too much longer,” Mattox responded: “Yes ma’am. Feel free to text or call when you feel like it ... ”
Mattox appears to have been active on Facebook for at least a month, from January to February. He was even giving out his cell phone number so friends could call him. But when WNEP tried dialing the number this week, the TV station heard a message saying the number was not in service.
Lackawanna County spokesman Joseph D’Arienzo told the Times-Tribune that the county was aware of the selfies that were “ostensibly made from the inside of the prison.” He added that “in response, the prison staff did conduct a search of the prison and contraband was found.”
The searches happened in February, and several other phones were also seized, law enforcement officials told the newspaper.
County officials expressed alarm over the incident.
“How the hell did they do that?” Lackawanna County Commissioner Jerry Notarianni asked the Times-Tribune. “This clearly is not a good thing. I’m in shock.”
Mattox is serving a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty to being part of a Kentucky crack and cocaine ring in 2010, according to court filings.
A year ago, Mattox was indicted on separate charges by a federal grand jury after prosecutors say he assaulted another inmate in 2016 at a U.S. penitentiary in Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He’s currently awaiting trial on those charges.
At one point, Mattox conceded on Facebook that he was posting too many pictures from prison, and began posting photos of himsef not behind bars.
“I’m tired of everyone talking about all I have on here is prison pictures,” Mattox wrote in the comments.
He also griped about being stuck in prison for 15 years.
“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,” Mattox wrote.
Even those who have spent time in the prison where Mattox is housed expressed disbelief about how bold the picture-posting was.
“My reaction was like, ‘Wow, how could that happen?’ like I mean I see stuff going through the jail all the time, but a phone?” Brandon Howey, of Scranton, Pa., told WNEP. “That is pretty dumb, like catch a lot more charges for that.”
Prison officials told the Times-Tribune that the investigation is ongoing.