One of the two people guarding Jeffrey Epstein when he died in a federal jail cell was a “substitute,” The New York Times reported Monday.
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.
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.
Citing the three officials, The Times also reported that no correctional officer had checked on Epstein for several hours before he was found. Guards were supposed to look in on prisoners in the protective unit, known as South 9, where he was housed every 30 minutes.
The guards who were supposed to be watching Epstein reportedly failed to do so because both were working overtime, the president of the local union for jail staffers told The Washington Post on Sunday.
In addition, Epstein was supposed to have had another inmate in his cell, several officials told the Times Sunday. But the jail had recently transferred his cellmate and allowed Epstein to be housed alone, a decision that also violated the jail’s procedures, the officials said.
Irregularities go beyond a substitute guard
Also Sunday, New York City chief medical examiner Barbara Sampson said her office conducted an autopsy of financier Jeffrey Epstein’s body but has yet to officially determine his cause of death.
The autopsy results were expected to be released Sunday afternoon, but Sampson said the results are “pending further information,” according to the Post.
Ahead of The Times report Monday, Attorney General William Barr criticized the management of the prison in a press conference.
“We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation,” he said.
“We will get to the bottom of what happened,” he added. “There will be accountability.”
Barr did not offer additional information about the problems at the jail. But questions have been raised about why Epstein had been taken off suicide watch just days after apparently trying to kill himself and then was left alone in a cell without close supervision.
According to Bureau of Prisons’ policy, several high-ranking prison officials would have had to have approved Epstein’s removal from the facility’s suicide prevention program, including the prison’s chief psychologist.
On Monday, FBI agents and New York detectives raided Epstein’s private, 70-acre island in the United States Virgin Islands, sometimes called “Pedophile Island. They were looking for documents, photographs, videos, computers and other materials, people briefed on the matter said.