Federal prosecutors in New York are preparing to file criminal charges as early as this week against two Bureau of Prisons workers who were supposed to check regularly on millionaire offender Jeffrey Epstein the night he hanged himself in his cell, according to people familiar with the matter.
The two corrections workers, whose names have not been released, fell under suspicion immediately after Epstein was found early on the morning of Aug. 10 in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal jail used primarily for people awaiting trial.
The New York City medical examiner ruled his death a suicide by hanging, though lawyers for the disgraced financier have questioned that conclusion.
At the time of his death, the 66-year-old Epstein had been at the facility in Lower Manhattan for more than a month on charges that could have led to a prison sentence of as much as 45 years. He had pleaded not guilty, and the case was due to go to trial next year.
The death of the most high-profile defendant in the federal prison system led to a major shake-up at the Bureau of Prisons. Attorney General William Barr brought in a former director of the agency to run it again, and he replaced the top official at the MCC, saying the preliminary investigation had found “serious irregularities at the center.”
Those irregularities include logs indicating that Epstein was checked on regularly, in accordance with MCC procedures. Investigators don’t believe those checks happened, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. The two staffers were placed on leave shortly after Epstein’s death.
Prosecutors have been focused on charges against the officers of falsifying federal records, people familiar with the matter said. In recent weeks, they sought to have the officers plead guilty, though they refused, the people said.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Manhattan declined to comment.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky