City Paper is not for tourists
The only clue on Matin Sedigh’s MySpace page as to why he ended up before a D.C. Superior Court judge last Friday was a note left on April 8 by a friend named Andrea.
“I’m really sorry you had a shitty day,” she wrote to Sedigh, a 24-year-old financial analyst for Merrill Lynch. “Come visit and I promise you’ll have a better weekend :)”
The shitty events of Saturday, April 7, began a little before 5 a.m., on the campus of American University, Sedigh’s alma mater. Sedigh, who traveled from his home in New York City, went to Asbury Hall on the school’s main campus. He climbed through a window and kicked in the heavy wooden door to the registrar’s office. Along the way, he tripped an alarm and a motion detector, which, at 4:48 a.m., dispatched three university police officers to the scene of the developing crime.
Canvassing the building, the officers discovered a pried-open first-floor window and a muddy footprint on the ground below. Sergeant Shonte Tolson continued to the second floor, where he noted a pair of black gloves abandoned by the entrance to the registrar’s office. The door hung open, its frame twisted and a pane of glass shattered on the floor. Inside, the air smelled of alcohol. Soon, Tolson spotted Sedigh crouched beneath a desk. He asked the poorly hidden cat burglar to present himself.
Sedigh then “jumped up abruptly and began to charge at me in [a] threatening manner,” Tolson wrote in a report. The sergeant shouted for Sedigh to stop and get on the ground, but he continued his advance. Even doused with pepper spray, Sedigh lurched forward. He tackled the officer and fled through the busted door only to be caught by another university police officer in a stairwell. He was arrested by city police and charged with second-degree burglary.
Standing before Judge Robert Richter last Friday, Sedigh attempted to explain his decision to break into his college registrar’s office three years after graduation.
At first, he said he didn’t know what was going through his head. Richter wasn’t satisfied with that explanation. So Sedigh offered, “It was a terrible decision.”
Finally, he explained, “I thought at the time I would be able to change or improve grades I’d received at school.”
According to university spokesperson Maralee Csellar, Sedigh failed in his mission.
In a deal struck with prosecutors, who cited his previously clean criminal record, Sedigh pleaded guilty to unlawful entry and destruction of property. He walked away with a suspended sentence and six months of supervised probation.
Richter expressed a hope that the young man was “more honest in his professional life.”
Except for a brief conversation outside the courtroom, Sedigh declined to discuss the case or his job with a reporter. After graduating from American in 2004, Sedigh moved to New York and got a job at Merrill Lynch, where he’s now a vice president—a rank shared by thousands, according to the company. According to his MySpace page, the Southern California native has visited 13 percent of the countries in the world and prefers throwing parties to attending them. His favorite books include The Fountainhead, The Tipping Point, and The Power Broker. Among the photos posted on the page are an image of Sedigh dressed up as a giant penis-and-testes for Halloween and a snapshot of a Lexus speedometer topping 140 miles per hour with the annotation “Speeding tickets are expensive.”
Csellar says that although the large campus has had its share of break-ins, no one in campus security could recall a previous breach at the registrar’s office.
After the hearing, Sedigh seemed convinced he could sequester the incident from the rest of his successful post-college career. He said he didn’t know whether his employers are aware of his arrest and guilty plea.
“I’d like to avoid any paper trail,” he said.