US media reported the two guards who were assigned to watch Jeffrey Epstein when he died have been removed. They may have been asleep and falsified reports.
The US Justice Department on Tuesday said the warden at the federal jail where Jeffrey Epstein was being held had been reassigned and two guards who were supposed to be watching him when he killed himself were placed on leave.
Epstein was taken off a suicide watch at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York last month for unknown reasons, and a guard was supposed to check on him every 30 minutes. He had been facing charges for the sex trafficking of minors.
Those checks were not done for several hours before Epstein was found Saturday morning and the guards are now under suspicion of falsifying log entries that keep a record of the checks, US media reported.
The Associated Press (AP) reported earlier this week that of the two guards on duty on the morning of the US financier's apparent suicide, one was working a fifth day of overtime and the other was working mandatory overtime. It has been reported that the jail was short staffed.
Video shows checks not made
Surveillance video reviewed after the death showed guards never made some of the checks noted in the log, a source told AP on condition of anonymity.
The New York Times newspaper, citing unnamed officials, reported that the two guards on duty to watch Epstein and other prisoners were asleep for some or all of the three hours that Epstein is believed to have been left alone in his cell without checks.
The guards may have falsified reports saying they checked on Epstein and it appears he had been dead for 1 to 2 hours before he was found, broadcaster CBS reported, citing a law enforcement source and another source familiar with the investigation.
Attorney General William Barr, the top US law enforcement official, on Monday vowed to carry on the Epstein investigation following the death of the wealthy and well-connected money manager.
Barr said he was "appalled" at the jail's "failure to adequately secure this prisoner." He cited "serious irregularities at this facility," but did not go into detail.
Warden reassigned, guards on leave
The warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan will be temporarily reassigned to another post within the Federal Bureau of Prisons and a temporary replacement will be appointed.
The two corrections officers assigned to Epstein's unit have been put on administrative leave while the investigation is carried out.
The Bureau of Prisons sent a team of prison psychologists, known as a suicide reconstruction team, to the scene on Tuesday, where they were expected to investigate why Epstein killed himself and how it happened, a Justice Department official told AP.
law/rg (AP, Reuters)