The two Metropolitan Correctional Center guards tasked with watching over Jeffrey Epstein falsified records indicating they had checked on the accused sex trafficker.
Law enforcement and prison officials said the staffers logged the false entries after falling asleep, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The convicted pedophile was being held in a special housing unit known as 9 South. The correctional officers recorded in the log that they’d checked in on Epstein every 30 minutes, per requirements. But they instead fell asleep for “some or all of the three hours” when they were supposed to be watching him, three officials told The Times.
The Justice Department announced Tuesday that the two staffers had been placed on leave pending an investigation. Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons to temporarily reassign the warden of the jail where Epstein died.
The development will likely add more fuel to speculation about the circumstances surrounding the death of Jeffrey Epstein
On both the political left and right, alternative theories about Epstein’s death have quickly proliferated, with many pointing to his former powerful friends. #ClintonBodyCount and #ClintonCrimeFamily were trending on Twitter on Saturday along with a competing hashtag, TrumpBodyCount.
The official cause of Epstein’s death has yet to be determined. New York City chief medical examiner Barbara Sampson said on Sunday that the results of his autopsy are “pending further information.” He had been taken off suicide watch after an apparent suicide attempt.
CBS News reported on Tuesday that “shouting and shrieking” was heard from Epstein’s cell on the morning he died.
Epstein’s death has spurred outrage by critics who say the prison should have prevented it. The FBI said it was investigating, and Barr said that a special inquiry would be opened into what happened.
“I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody,” Barr said in a statement. “Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered.”
The New York Times reported on Monday that one of the two people guarding Epstein when he died in a federal jail cell was a “substitute.”
The stand-in guard did not normally work as a correctional officer, three prison officials with knowledge of the case told The Times on condition of anonymity. The sources, one prison official and two law enforcement officials, did not identify the person or say what type of job he usually worked.
Meanwhile, a former inmate at the Metropolitan Correction Center, the federal prison where Epstein was held, told the New York Post on Saturday that there is “no way” he killed himself there.
Epstein, who was facing up to 45 years in prison on charges of sex trafficking girls as young as 14, was found unconscious Saturday morning in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. He was pronounced dead that morning after apparently hanging himself.