Hardly a day goes by without a new issue popping up in the ongoing investigations into Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged suicide.
Yesterday was no exception.
Now, comes word that at least one of the cameras that was monitoring the hallway outside of Epstein’s cell produced what federal officials have labeled “unusable footage”.
Before delving into this latest mess, let me first remind Frank Report readers of the circumstances leading up to Epstein’s demise.
Epstein Was Originally Placed in the 9-South Wing
Because of his high-profile nature – and because he was facing sex trafficking charges – Epstein was initially placed in the 9-South Wing at the Manhattan Correctional Center (MCC).
The 9-South Wing is a designated Special Housing Unit (SHU) that generally houses inmates that violated prison rules; newly arrived inmates who have not yet been medically cleared for placement in a general population unit; and inmates who have been placed in Protective Custody – either at their request or at the direction of MCC administrators.
All the cells in the 9-South Wing are 2-man cells. Although there are no in-cell cameras, there are external cameras that continuously monitor the area outside each cell.
Epstein’s original cellmate in the 9-South Wing was Nicholas Tartaglione, a former policeman who is facing four murder counts and a host of other charges.
Shortly after Epstein was denied bail and returned to his cell in the 9-South Wing, he was found on the floor of his cell in a semi-conscious state with bruise marks on his neck.
Tartaglione told prison officials that he discovered Epstein on the floor – and thought that he had tried to commit suicide.
Epstein initially said he could not remember what happened to him – but later recanted that story and said he had been attacked by Tartaglione.
Next Stop: Suicide Watch
As a precautionary measure, prison officials put Epstein on Suicide Watch. While there, he was under observation by an assigned prisoner who had been trained for that duty – and who made notations every 15-minutes in a logbook.
As is true for the vast majority of prisoners who end up on Suicide Watch, Epstein was only there for a few days (The average length of stay for such prisoners is usually 3-5 days).
Thereafter, at the request of his attorneys (who informed prison officials about Epstein’s claim that he had been attacked by Tartaglione) – and with the sign-off of a “doctor-level psychologist” – Epstein was taken off Suicide Watch and returned to the SHU.
The Fateful Decision – and the Ensuing Fuck-Up
Once it was decided that Epstein would be returned to the SHU, MCC officials had two options: (1) place him back in the 9-South Wing in a 2-man cell or (2) place in the 10-South Wing which has single-man cells and in-cell cameras that keep the inmates until 24/7 observation via a closed-circuit television (CCTV) system.
For reasons that have not yet been explained, prison officials chose to put Epstein back in the 9-South Wing with a different cellmate.
In doing so, they gave explicit orders to at least 8 staff – including at least one lieutenant and at least one captain – that Epstein was never to be left without a cellmate.
Those orders were violated within days as Epstein’s new cellmate was transferred out of their joint cell on Friday, August 9th (It has not yet been announced whether the cellmate was transferred to another cell within the 9-South Wing, to another section of MCC, or to another prison).
Throughout the time that Epstein was in the 9-South Wing, he was also supposed to be visually observed in his cell every 30 minutes by one of the two guards who were assigned that duty. A record of all those observations was supposed to be recorded in the guard’s Observation Log.
Around 6:30 AM on Saturday, August 10th, the staff who were delivering breakfast to the inmates in the 9-South Wing discovered Epstein unconscious on the floor of his cell.
He was pronounced dead later that day – and a subsequent autopsy by the New York City Medical Examiner concluded that he died from a self-inflicted hanging.
Conspiracy Theories vs. Bureaucratic Bungling
In the aftermath of Epstein’s demise, numerous people have voiced opinions as to what really happened to him.
Some have claimed that Epstein is not dead – and that he was covertly removed from MCC and transferred to Israel or some other foreign country.
Others have claimed that Epstein was taken out of MCC and then murdered so that he would never be able to reveal the many politicians and world leaders who were involved in his sex trafficking operation.
Still others have claimed that Epstein was strangled by another inmate or guard who had been let in his cell for that purpose.
Meanwhile, those who are familiar with MCC – and/or with the operations of other federal prisons – said this kind of bungling is not at all unusual.
– A prisoner transferred on a Friday night for no apparent reason? No big deal – it happens all the time.
– Not replacing the transferred prisoner – and leaving Epstein alone in his cell – even though there were explicit orders that he not be left alone? No big deal – it happens all the time.
– Guards sleeping during the overnight shift – and then falsifying their logbooks to make it look like they actually did their 30-minute checks? No big deal – it happens all the time.
– An untrained person being put on guard duty in the SHU? No big deal – it happens all the time.
And now, we have the question of the camera outside Epstein’s cell producing “unusable footage” on the night of his demise.
Was that part of some master plot that was designed to cover-up the truth about Epstein?
Or was it just another example of the general incompetence that permeates the Bureau of Prisons?
Multiple investigations are currently underway to find out what REALLY happened to Jeffrey Epstein (At present, there are at least three active investigations: one by the FBI, one by the Bureau of Prison’s Inspector General; and one by the House Judiciary Committee).
Almost certainly, they will all conclude that Epstein simply committed suicide.
The inexplicable and unimaginable will be explained away as “human error”.
And a significant portion of the U.S. population will simply not believe that story.
Author’s Note: This morning, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman, the judge who was presiding over the criminal case involving Jeffrey Epstein, is holding a hearing to determine whether to simply close the case (Upon Epstein’s death, all the charges against him were automatically dismissed). At least 10-12 of Epstein’s victims are expected to testify at the hearing.