NEW YORK —
Video footage of the realm round Jeffrey Epstein’s jail cell on a day he survived an apparent suicide attempt “no longer exists,” federal prosecutors informed a choose Thursday.
Officials on the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York believed they’d preserved footage of guards discovering Jeffrey Epstein after he appeared to have tried suicide, however truly saved a video from a special a part of the jail, prosecutors mentioned.
The FBI additionally has decided that the footage doesn’t exist on the jail’s backup video system “as a result of technical errors,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maurene Comey and Jason Swergold wrote in a court docket submitting.
The revelation got here regardless of assurances prosecutors made that jail officers have been preserving the footage on the request of a defence legal professional for Nicholas Tartaglione, a former police officer who shared a cell with Epstein in July when the rich financier was after found with bruises on his neck after which positioned on suicide watch.
Epstein later hanged himself in jail Aug. 10 whereas awaiting trial on sex-trafficking prices, officers mentioned.
Tartaglione’s defence legal professional, Bruce Barket, informed The Associated Press he intends to ask U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas to carry a listening to with “live testimony” to find out what occurred to the lacking video.
“The various and inconsistent accounts of what happened to that video are deeply troubling,” Barket mentioned in an e-mail.
Tartaglione is charged in what prosecutors have described because the “gangland-style” killings of 4 males who disappeared throughout a cocaine-related dispute.
Barket mentioned the jailhouse video would have supported his place that Tartaglione “acted appropriately” on the day in query, alluding to questions on whether or not Epstein had been attacked.
A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons declined to remark, citing an ongoing investigation.
One of Epstein’s attorneys, Marc Fernich, mentioned the lacking video “only adds to the unanswered questions and deepens the air of mystery surrounding (Epstein’s) death, feeding the perception that the public will never really know what happened — and that the powers that be aren’t really interested in finding out.”
“Nothing about Jeffrey Epstein’s prosecution and death in federal custody surprises or could surprise me at this point,” Fernich added.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan mentioned in Thursday’s court docket submitting that jailhouse officers had preserved video for the “correct date and time” however captured the incorrect a part of the jail. They mentioned the jail’s pc system listed a “different, incorrect cell” for Tartaglione.
“The Government further understands from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that it has reviewed that backup system as part of an unrelated investigation and determined that the requested video no longer exists on the backup system and has not since at least August 2019 as a result of technical errors,” the prosecutors wrote.
The footage in query includes a July 23 episode in which correctional officers say they discovered Epstein on the ground of his cell with a strip of bedsheet round his neck. Michael Thomas, one of many officers charged with falsifying information the evening Epstein died, was one of many officers who responded to that scene.
Epstein was moved out of that cell and positioned on suicide watch. He was transferred again to the jail’s particular housing unit July 30, that means he was much less intently monitored however nonetheless purported to be checked each 30 minutes. He was additionally required to have a cellmate, however he was left with none after his cellmate was transferred out of the jail Aug. 9, the day earlier than his loss of life, authorities have mentioned.
Prosecutors charged the 2 officers liable for guarding Epstein the evening he died with falsifying jail information to hide they have been sleeping and looking the web in the course of the hours they have been purported to be protecting a detailed watch on prisoners.
The falsification of information has been an issue all through the federal jail system. The federal Bureau of Prisons, which for years has been suffering from intensive staffing shortages, power violence and critical misconduct, has come beneath elevated scrutiny since Epstein’s loss of life in August.
Staffing shortages throughout the bureau are so extreme that guards are frequently pressured to work obligatory additional time, generally day after day, and violence results in common lockdowns at jail compounds throughout the nation. A congressional report additionally discovered that “bad behaviour is ignored or covered up on a regular basis” throughout the bureau.
After Epstein’s loss of life in August, Attorney General William Barr mentioned the financier’s potential to take his personal life inside one in all most safe jails in America raised “serious questions that must be answered.” Barr eliminated the company’s appearing director in the wake of Epstein’s loss of life and named Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, the jail company’s director from 1992 till 2003, to switch him.
Barr informed the AP in November that the investigation revealed a “series” of errors made that gave Epstein the possibility to take his personal life and that his suicide was the results of “a perfect storm of screw-ups.”
Barr informed the AP he had personally reviewed safety footage from the evening Epstein took his personal life, which confirmed that nobody entered the realm the place Epstein was housed on the evening he died.