No Evidence of Criminality in Jeffrey Epstein’s Death: Watchdog

No Evidence of Criminality in Jeffrey Epstein’s Death: Watchdog
Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' sex offender registry March 28, 2017 and obtained by Reuters July 10, 2019. (New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Handout via Reuters)
Zachary Stieber

An investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s death in federal custody uncovered no evidence of criminality, a watchdog reported on June 27.

Misconduct by jail staffers led to Epstein’s death but no criminal acts were uncovered, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General said in a 128-page report (pdf).

The watchdog found that staffers in the facility violated multiple policies, including failing to assign Epstein a new cellmate after his cellmate was transferred and failing to conduct rounds the morning he was found dead.

Epstein, arrested on July 6, 2019, on federal sex trafficking charges, was found hanging in his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2019.

The FBI previously probed the death and found no evidence of criminality.

“We did not uncover evidence contradicting the FBI’s determination regarding the absence of criminality in connection with how Epstein died,” the inspector general’s office said.

“We did not find, for example, evidence that anyone was present in the SHU area where Epstein was housed during the relevant timeframe other than the inmates who were locked in their assigned cells,” the watchdog said. Epstein was held in the prison’s Special Housing Unit (SHU).

The office is led by Michael Horowitz, an Obama appointee.

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz addresses a Congressional panel in February 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz addresses a Congressional panel in February 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Failure to Follow Policy

While no criminality was identified, officials said failure to follow basic bureau policy led to Epstein’s death.

Bureau of Prisons policy requires staff in the Special Housing Unit, where Epstein was being held, to check on inmates at least twice an hour and that lieutenants make rounds at least once per shift. The policies are in place to try to make sure inmates are okay.

No rounds or checks were completed after 10:40 p.m. on Aug. 9, and no inmate counts were conducted after the morning of Aug. 9, until 6:30 a.m., when officers started giving inmates breakfast and found Epstein hanged in his cell, the watchdog said.

Officers also failed to assign Epstein a new cellmate after his was transferred on Aug. 9.

“The combination of negligence, misconduct, and outright job performance failures documented in this report all contributed to an environment in which arguably one of the BOP’s most notorious inmates was provided with the opportunity to take his own life, resulting in significant questions being asked about the circumstances of his death, how it could have been allowed to happen, and most importantly, depriving his numerous victims, many of whom were underage girls at the time of the alleged crimes, of their ability to seek justice through the criminal justice process,” the watchdog said.

Several staffers falsified records and were charged, though the charges were ultimately dropped after the officers admitted guilt.
The door to the cell housing Jeffrey Epstein as seen in July 2019 (left) and the empty interior of the cell. (OCME via The Epoch Times)
The door to the cell housing Jeffrey Epstein as seen in July 2019 (left) and the empty interior of the cell. (OCME via The Epoch Times)

Apparent Suicide Attempt

Epstein underwent mental health screenings on multiple occasions after being imprisoned, including a suicide assessment three days after he was taken into custody. Epstein was not a suicide risk, prison officials assessed.

But on July 23, 2019, staffers found Epstein with a cloth around his neck. Epstein’s cellmate told officers Epstein had tried killing himself. The cellmate said he was asleep until Epstein landed on him. Epstein initially claimed the cellmate tried to kill him, and that he was told that staffers wouldn’t care if the cellmate hurt him, but later said he did not know what happened and refused to talk about it.

Officers placed Epstein on suicide watch, noting that they weren’t sure whether Epstein had placed the cloth around his neck, or somebody else had. Epstein was removed the following day from suicide watch, and kept under psychological observation until July 30, 2019. Epstein received a new cellmate. That cellmate was transferred on Aug. 9, and no replacement was selected. On the same day, officers let Epstein make a phone call that was neither recorded nor monitored. Epstein said he was going to call his mother but he actually called somebody else, according to authorities.

No Evidence Supporting Homicide Theory

New York’s chief medical examiner determined Epstein committed suicide. His brother said Epstein did not kill himself, and a pathologist who observed the autopsy said the evidence pointed toward homicide.

No staff members nor inmates had credible information about the cause of death not being suicide, according to the inspector general’s report. Three of the inmates could see Epstein’s cell and said they did not see anyone enter in the hours before he died.

The inspector general was unable to recover footage from any cameras besides one—the others were said to have malfunctioned—and that footage did not have Epstein’s cell in view. No one was seen moving toward the cell in the footage, the report said.

Inspector general office workers interviewed 54 witnesses, including staffers, inmates, and a relative of Epstein.

The inspector general made eight recommendations to the bureau, including implementing an improved process for assigning cellmates and establishing procedures to make sure inmates designated at high risk for suicide will have cellmates.

A bureau spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email it has received the report and has already implemented some of the recommended practices.

“These improvements include a diligent review of video footage from restrictive housing to ensure that employee rounds are conducted promptly and accurately. In addition, lieutenants have been assigned the responsibility of conducting regular counts in restrictive housing, while employees are now required to submit reports on inmates housed alone. Furthermore, it is mandatory to notify the warden for a thorough review whenever an individual is placed on suicide watch,” the spokesperson said.

The bureau temporarily closed the prison in August 2021, in light of what transpired.

Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news. Contact Zachary at [email protected]
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