It was reported just days ago that two corrections officers who were on duty at the Metropolitan Correctional Center the night convicted sex offender and accused child sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein died turned down a plea deal offered by federal prosecutors. It was a clear sign that the Department of Justice was considering criminal charges. On Tuesday, the corrections officers became defendants.
The federal employees were arrested on federal charges related to their failure to check on Epstein as required, the New York Times reports. The guards fell asleep when they should have been checking on Epstein, then covered that up by falsifying records, authorities allege.
Last Friday, the Associated Press reported the existence of a plea deal offer related, again, to the alleged falsification of prison records. The guards apparently turned that down.
“As many as 20” corrections officers received grand jury subpoenas in the wake of Epstein’s death. Epstein’s death was officially ruled a suicide, but at least one forensic pathologist has pushed back on the suicide ruling, saying that Epstein’s broken bones were more consistent with a homicide than a suicide.
Attorney General William Barr moved quickly after Epstein’s Aug. 10 death to make changes at the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). After Epstein died at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, two guards were suspended and a warden was reassigned. Barr then announced that he was removing the acting director of the BOP Hugh Hurwitz from that role and replacing him with Dr. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, who served as BOP Director from 1992 to 2003. She was the first woman to lead the BOP.
The moves were made after Barr expressed his anger and dismay that Epstein was not adequately secured (he was taken off of suicide watch after a reported prior suicide attempt). Barr said there were “serious irregularities” at the jail. The circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death, which law enforcement experts called stunning, remains under investigation by both the FBI and the DOJ’s Inspector General.
According to the AP’s latest reporting, Hawk Sawyer “disclosed in a Nov. 4 internal memo that a review of operations across the agency found some staff members failed to perform required rounds and inmate counts but logged that they had done so anyway.”
“Falsification of information in government systems and documents is also a violation of policy, and may be subject to criminal prosecution as well,” the memo said.
That line of the memo turned out to be pretty telling. The on-duty prison guards, who were working overtime, failed to check on Epstein each half hour and were suspected of falsifying logs to indicate otherwise. They now face charges for that.
[Image of prison via David Dee Delgado/Getty Images]