Barr Removes Warden of Epstein's NYC Jail, Suspends Two Staffers
(Bloomberg) -- Attorney General William Barr has reassigned the warden of the federal jail where Jeffrey Epstein died in an apparent suicide pending the outcome of investigations into what Barr has called “serious irregularities.”
In addition to temporarily transferring warden Lamine N’Diaye to the Bureau of Prisons’ regional office, the department has placed on leave two members of the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s staff who were assigned to the unit where Epstein died.
Epstein, 66, faced federal charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking involving teenage girls. He wasn’t on a suicide watch even though he had been earlier because of a previous apparent attempt to kill himself.
Barr has directed the FBI to brief his office on the investigation every three hours, according to a person familiar with the inquiry.
FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich is providing the briefings to Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, the person said, in an all-hands-on-deck effort. Numerous investigators from the FBI, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are involved.
Already some irregularities have been discovered, according to a person familiar with the matter, including that checks on Epstein that were supposed to be made every 30 minutes weren’t done for several hours leading up to when he was found dead.
Also, Epstein’s cell-mate had been removed and not replaced in apparent violation of rules, the person said.
Despite Barr’s assurances, the death of Epstein, who evaded severe punishment for more than a decade thanks to lenient treatment by law enforcement, could mean that molestation victims who had finally been promised their day in court by federal prosecutors won’t get one after all.
“Jeffrey Epstein’s victims have once again been cheated out of an opportunity for justice,” Jack Scarola, a West Palm Beach, Florida, lawyer who represents some of Epstein’s alleged victims, said Monday. “I’m sure that none of them regret his death. All of them regret the loss of information that died with him.”
The House Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat and Republican said Monday that they want answers from federal Bureau of Prisons, including information about the individual correctional officers who were responsible for monitoring the financier and whether there were any video surveillance cameras in operation near Epstein’s cell.
“Did they indicate, or do recordings show, the circumstances that led to Mr. Epstein’s death, or the presence of any other person during this time period?" committee chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York, and top panel Republican Doug Collins of Georgia wrote in a letter. The pair also asked for confirmation that Epstein had been placed on suicide watch and about who ordered the termination of that protocol. They asked for answers by Aug. 21.
James Petrucci, head of the federal prison in Otisville, New York, was named interim warden of the jail in Manhattan, the Justice Department said in a statement Tuesday.
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