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Government Reverses Course: Jeffrey Epstein Suicide Attempt Video ‘No Longer Exists’

It was lost, it was found, and now it “no longer exists.”

The government says missing surveillance footage from outside of Jeffrey Epstein’s cell on the night of his first reported suicide attempt will remain missing, a reversal of what the public was just told weeks ago.

Prosecutors in New York city previously announced that they were able to locate lost surveillance footage from outside of the deceased pedophile’s cell on the night of his first suicide attempt at the Manhattan Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC). The suspiciously missing footage was located late on Dec. 19–just one day after prosecutors told a federal court that video from the night of July 22 and early morning of July 23 of this year had not been properly preserved by Manhattan MCC authorities.

According to NBC 4 New York, Epstein was found “injured and in a fetal position inside his cell,” after authorities were alerted to his condition and was “semi-conscious with marks on his neck.”

After that incident, Epstein was transferred to a different section of the MCC, placed on so-called “suicide watch,” promptly taken off and then left alone in his cell before eventually dying under somewhat disputed circumstances the second week of August.

After the first Epstein jail incident, the microscope quickly shifted to Epstein’s former cellmate, Nick Tartaglione. As Law&Crime previously reported, Tartaglione claims to have saved the elite pedophile’s life on the night in question. The ex-cop, behind bars on quadruple murder charges, reportedly alerted Manhattan MCC officials after Epstein attempted to hang himself.

Tartaglione’s attorney Bruce Barket said he was “pleased” to learn the video was “preserved,” and that he looked forward to viewing it.

Well, so much for that. The letter from Southern District of New York prosecutors to U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas, emphases ours:

The Government respectfully submits this letter to provide a further update to the Court regarding the defense’s request for video footage from outside the defendant’s cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (“MCC”) on July 22 – July 23, 2019. On or about December 19, 2019, the Government informed the Court and defense counsel that it had confirmed with MCC staff that the requested video had been preserved, and that the Government was working to obtain a copy from MCC. As set forth in greater detail below, the Government has learned that the MCC inadvertently preserved video from the wrong tier within the MCC, and, as a result, video from outside the defendant’s cell on July 22 – 23, 2019 (i.e. the requested video) no longer exists.

On or about July 23, 2019, at approximately 1:27 a.m., MCC corrections officers responded to the cell (“Cell-1”) that the defendant shared with Jeffrey Epstein. On or about July 25, 2019, defense counsel requested that MCC preserve video footage from outside the defendant’s cell from July 22, 2019 at 11:00 p.m. through July 23, 2019 at 4:00 a.m. From speaking with MCC legal counsel, the Government understands that in response to this request, MCC legal counsel looked up the defendant’s cell number in the MCC computer system and thereafter requested that MCC staff preserve video from outside of that cell for the requested time period. An MCC staff member confirmed that the video had been preserved.

On or about January 3, 2020, the MCC provided the Government with a copy of the video that it had preserved, which the Government then converted into a playable format. After reviewing the video, it appeared to the Government that the footage contained on the preserved video was for the correct date and time, but captured a different tier than the one where Cell-1 was located because the preserved video did not show corrections officers responding to any of the cells seen on the video. After speaking with MCC legal counsel, the Government was informed that the MCC computer system listed a different, incorrect cell for Tartaglione (“Cell-2”). Therefore, when MCC legal counsel asked that the video outside of the defendant’s cell be preserved, the MCC preserved video outside of Cell-2 instead of Cell-1.

The Government understands from speaking with MCC legal counsel that there was a backup system in place that housed all video for the Special Housing Unit, including the video requested by defense counsel. The Government further understands from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that it has reviewed that backup system as part of an unrelated investigation and determined that the requested video no longer exists on the backup system and has not since at least August 2019 as a result of technical errors.

The Government will make the video of the tier containing Cell-2 available for defense counsel’s review at the United States Attorney’s Office.

Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.

[Image via David Dee Delgado/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.