DOJ Probe of Jeffrey Epstein’s Suicide Details Missteps, Mismanagement at Manhattan Jail

The inspector general identified “numerous and serious failures” by the Metropolitan Correctional Center staff

jeffrey epstein
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in July 2019 (Getty Images)

A series of missteps in the now-closed federal lockup in Manhattan allowed financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein ample time to commit suicide in August 2019, despite an earlier attempt at taking his own life, the Justice Department Inspector General said in a report released Tuesday.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz identified “numerous and serious failures” by the Metropolitan Correctional Center staff, including multiple violations of procedure, among them failing to assign Epstein a cellmate, as recommended by the Psychology Department; allowing Epstein to make an unmonitored telephone call the evening before his death, and failing to conduct inmate counts every 30 minutes as required.

The report includes an image of a notice posted in the unit that said, “Mandatory rounds must be conducted every 30 minutes on Epstein,” with his inmate number, “as per God!!!!”

The investigation also revealed that several staff member falsified Bureau of Prisons records relating to inmate counts and rounds inspecting cells. Two individuals were charged criminally with falsifying records, but the charges were later dismissed, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York declined to prosecute other staffers who also created false documents, the report said.

“The combination of these and other failures led to Epstein being unmonitored and alone in his cell, which contained an excessive amount of bed linens, from approximately 10:40 p.m. on August 9 until he was discovered hanged in his locked cell the following day,” the report said.

Why he was allowed to hoard extra sheets and blankets was among the questions that went unanswered by the probe.

Epstein was awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges, accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls and paying many of them to recruit others. He faced up to 45 years in prison.

A decade earlier, he pleaded guilty in Florida to soliciting a minor for prostitution. He served 13 months of an 18-month sentence and was released in 2009.

Epstein’s associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, was convicted in December 2021 for her role in the case, and was slapped with a 20-year sentence.

While the probe found “significant misconduct,” the report did not uncover evidence that suggested Epstein died by means other than suicide. It did not find that anyone was in the secure unit where Epstein was housed during the relevant time “present in the SHU area where Epstein was housed during the relevant timeframe “other than the inmates who were locked in their assigned cells.”

But the staffers violated a key order intended to prevent Epstein from harming himself by not assigning a new cellmate after his was transferred to another facility. Instead, the disgraced financier alone in his cell for a full day despite having come off of suicide watch just days earlier.

The report also detailed problems with video cameras throughout the facility, which were working and transmitting live video when Epstein died, but were not recording.