New York, NY – The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) announced Tuesday that the warden of the jail where billionaire Jeffrey Epstein allegedly committed suicide had been reassigned, and two correctional officers had been placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation of the prisoner’s death.
Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) correctional officers found the 66-year-old Tier 3 sex offender hanging in his cell at around 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10, according to ABC News.
Epstein was transported to New York Downtown Hospital in cardiac arrest before he was declared dead.
The billionaire had been jailed while facing charges for sexually abusing and trafficking children.
Epstein had been placed on a suicide watch after authorities believed he tried to kill himself on July 23, shortly after he was denied bail, The New York Times reported.
He was taken off suicide watch just six days later and returned to the cell he shared with another prisoner in 9 South, a special housing unit (SHU) inside the MCC.
But his roommate was removed from his cell a short time later.
Despite the fact that it is protocol to put a prisoner who has just been taken off suicide watch in a cell with another prisoner, Epstein didn’t get a new roommate before he allegedly killed himself, The New York Times reported.
Two prison officials have said that the staff members on duty the night Epstein tried to kill himself were supposed to be checking on him every 30 minutes, but had not looked in on him for three hours before he was found hanging.
A source at the jail told The New York Times that one of the employees who worked that night was a former correctional officer who had taken a new position within the detention center.
The employee had volunteered to work as a correctional officer for overtime pay that night, the source said.
The other correction officer who was working was a woman who had been ordered to work overtime due to staffing shortages, The New York Times reported.
Officials said that the employees had falsely recorded checks every 30 minutes in the logbook.
Three different officials told The New York Times that both employees had been asleep some, or all, of the three-hour period that preceded them finding Epstein hanging from his upper bunk by a bedsheet.
MCC Warden Lamine N’Diaye was transferred to a Bureau of Prisons office in Philadelphia while the alleged suicide and the circumstances surrounding it are investigated by federal authorities.
The prison employees union strongly objected to the warden being transferred while the correctional officers were placed on leave and said that blame for Epstein’s death falls at the feet of N’Diaye.
“It makes me angry that they reassigned the warden,” union official Jose Rojas told The New York Times. “They didn’t put him on administrative leave like the others. The warden made the call to take Epstein off suicide watch and to remove his cellmate. That is egregious.”
U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Monday ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the DoJ’s Inspector General to conduct investigations into Epstein’s death in custody, The New York Times reported.
DoJ officials said that a team of psychologists visited the detention center on Monday to review and evaluate the decisions made that led to taking Epstein off of suicide watch.
An “after-action team” was due to visit the prison on Wednesday to explore whether prison officials and staff followed policy in the weeks leading up to the billionaire’s death in the SHU, The New York Times reported.
The House Judiciary Committee sent a strongly worded letter to Hugh Hurwitz, the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons, on Monday that demanded answers as to how Epstein had managed to kill himself and “ultimately evade facing justice.”
On Wednesday morning, Epstein accuser Jennifer Araoz filed a lawsuit against the billionaire’s former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, and three members of his staff as the state law went into effect allowing victims of sex crimes that happened years ago to take legal action for one year, the Associated Press reported.
Araoz’s lawsuit alleges that Maxwell helped Epstein recruit teenage girls to be victims and provided “organizational support to Epstein’s sex trafficking ring.”