Nearly two dozen corrections officers at the federal detention center where Jeffrey Epstein died of an apparent suicide earlier this month have reportedly received grand jury subpoenas in the investigation into the disgraced financier’s death, a source confirmed Thursday
Nearly two dozen corrections officers at the federal detention center where Jeffrey Epstein died of an apparent suicide earlier this month have reportedly received grand jury subpoenas in the investigation into the disgraced financier’s death.
A source with knowledge of the probe told CNN as many as 20 officers received the subpoenas last week as investigators are trying to unravel what went on at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on the night of August 10.
More subpoenas could be on the way as the probe by the FBI and the Justice Department’s Inspector General expands, the source said.
Investigators hope to speak with the lieutenants who were in charge in the hours before Epstein was found hanged in his cell to determine why he was left alone despite strict instruction not to leave him unattended.
On Wednesday General William Barr said the probe is ‘well along’ despite ‘a number of witnesses’ refusing to cooperate.
‘A number of them required having union representatives and lawyers before we could scheduled interviews,’ Barr said.
Investigators with the FBI and Justice Department’s Inspector General are trying to unravel what went on at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on the night of August 10
CNN’s report comes one day after one in the Washington Post which claimed at least eight Bureau of Prisons staffers – including supervisors, managers and low-level correctional officers – ignored orders not to leave Epstein alone in his cell.
The strict security measures tailored to keep the 66-year-old alive as he awaited trial for sex trafficking and underage sex abuse were ignored, insiders say.
Investigators reportedly suspect some of the officials knew Epstein was on his own in the hours before his suicide on August 10.
In the days since Epstein’s death, a portrait has begun to emerge of Manhattan’s federal detention center as a chronically understaffed facility that possibly made a series of missteps in handling its most high-profile inmate.
Barr confirmed that the investigation into Epstein’s death has not produced any information that contradicts the medical examiner’s report that he died by suicide.
‘I have seen nothing that undercuts the finding of the medical examiner that this was a suicide,’ Barr said to reporters Wednesday.
‘Epstein’s death, I think we will see, was a suicide and I do think there are some irregularities at the [Metropolitan Correctional Center,’ he said, per ABC.
Investigators are working to determine which prison employees were knowledgeable on the orders to keep Epstein accompanied.
On Wednesday Attorney General William Barr said the probe is ‘well along’ despite ‘a number of witnesses’ refusing to cooperate with investigators
Although prison officials ignored protocol in leaving Epstein unattended, it may not mean criminal conduct was involved and the oversight could be blamed on bureaucratic incompetence.
The Bureau of Prisons has not commented on the matter.
‘It’s perplexing,’ Robert Hood, who formerly worked as a warden at federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, told the outlet. ‘If people were given instructions that Epstein should not be left alone, I don’t understand how they were not followed.’
Hood said it was concerning that Epstein was taken off suicide watch in the days leading up to his death and that prison officials could have thought leaving him under constant supervision would have sufficed.
‘You’re either on suicide watch or you’re not. If you have any concern at all, you maintain the suicide watch,’ he said.
Epstein’s death sparked public outrage, opened investigations, and led to a shuffle of leadership at the Bureau of Prisons. The FBI and DoJ are now probing the circumstances surrounding the apparent suicide.
On July 23 Epstein tried to kill himself behind bars, but was thwarted in his suicide attempt with his cellmate at the time, Nicholas Tartaglione, called guards to the cell and officials found him with a bed sheet around his neck.
Epstein claimed he was attacked, but officials suspected he intended to take his own life.
He was then placed on suicide watch which was lifted six days later on July 29 and was returned to a special housing unit known as Nine South where officers were instructed to check on him every 30 minutes and assure he wasn’t left alone.
He had a new cellmate following his suicide watch, but that individual was moved out of the cell on August 9 for unknown reasons. The next morning Epstein was discovered dead.
The warden of the Metropolitan Correctional Center has been temporarily reassigned and two guards put on administrative leave pending the investigation.
It was also revealed that the two prison guards on duty that night failed to check on Epstein every 30 minutes and falsified records to reflect that they did check in on him, when in reality they had been asleep for up to three hours, according to a New York Times report.
One of those guards had been a ‘fill-in’ who was forced into working because of the major shortages at the prison where staff are said to work 18 hour shifts and cannot refuse overtime.
Both guards were working overtime that week, shedding light on how understaffed and overworked prison workers are.
The guards’ union boss called out President Trump and his administration in response, saying they ignored their demands for funding, and stating that an incident like this one that happened this weekend was inevitable.
Serene Gregg, the president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3148, said that funding cuts have left the prison with less than 70 percent of the guards needed to adequately staff the facility, which has resulted in overworked guards who are incapable of performing their duties to the best of their abilities.
‘If it wasn’t Mr. Epstein, it would have been somebody else, because of the conditions at that institution,’ said Gregg.
‘It wasn’t a matter of how it happened or it happening, but it was only a matter of time for it to happen. It was inevitable. Our staff is severely overworked.’
Hugh Hurwitz, acting director of the federal Bureau of Prisons, was removed from his position on Monday after serving in that role for over a year.
In announcing Hurqitz’s reassignment, Attorney General William Barr did not reveal a reason, but the move is believed to be motivated by the Epstein suicide scandal.