DOJ Considering Criminal Charges Against Corrections Officers on Duty the Night Jeffrey Epstein Died: Report

The corrections officers who were on duty at the Metropolitan Correctional Center the night convicted sex offender and accused child sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein died have turned down a plea deal offered by federal prosecutors, a sign that the Department of Justice is considering criminal charges against the guards, according to a Friday report.

Per the Associated Press:

The existence of the plea offer signals the Justice Department is considering criminal charges in connection with the wealthy financier’s death at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York in August. The city’s medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide.

The guards on Epstein’s unit are suspected of failing to check on him every half hour, as required, and of fabricating log entries to show they had. As part of the proposed plea deal, prosecutors wanted the guards to admit they falsified the prison records, according to the people familiar with the matter. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to publicly discuss the investigation.

It was previously reported that “[a]s many as 20” correctional officers received grand jury subpoenas in the wake of Epstein’s death. Epstein’s death was officially ruled a suicide, but memes say otherwise. 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 shake things up 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. Barr also announced that Dr. Thomas R. Kane is the choice for Deputy Director of the BOP.

“I am pleased to welcome back Dr. Hawk Sawyer as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Under Dr. Hawk Sawyer’s previous tenure at the Bureau, she led the agency with excellence, innovation, and efficiency, receiving numerous awards for her outstanding leadership, “ Barr said in a statement at the time. “I am also pleased to announce Dr. Thomas R. Kane as the Deputy Director of BOP. Dr. Kane served in the Bureau for over thirty years under four Attorneys General and is known for his expertise and proficiency in prison management and organization.”

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.

The on-duty prison guards, who were working overtime, failed to check on Epstein each half hour and may have falsified logs to indicate otherwise, hence the plea deal offer. It’s also been reported that at least eight prison officials knew Epstein was not supposed to be left alone in his cell.

It still hasn’t been made clear why some video outside of Epstein’s cell is unusable.

[Image via US Marshals Service]

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

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