NEW YORK — Guards on Jeffrey Epstein’s unit were working extreme overtime shifts to make up for staffing shortages the morning of his apparent suicide, a person familiar with the jail’s operations told The Associated Press.
The person said that the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s Special Housing Unit was staffed with one guard working a fifth straight day of overtime and another who was working mandatory overtime. The person wasn’t authorized to discuss jail operations publicly and spoke Sunday on the condition of anonymity.
The jail staff failed to follow protocols leading up to Epstein’s death, according to a report from The New York Times, deepening the fallout from what led to the highly connected financier’s apparent suicide.
Epstein should have been checked on by guards in his cell every 30 minutes, but that didn’t happen the night before his apparent suicide, a law enforcement official told the Times.
The Times spoke to the official on the condition of anonymity. The Associated Press has not independently confirmed the information.
A law enforcement source also told the Times he was alone in his cell early Saturday after his cellmate was transferred. An official with knowledge of the investigation told the paper that the Justice Department was told Epstein would have a cellmate and be monitored by a guard every 30 minutes.
The mystery surrounding how he was able to kill himself in jail comes as investigators have been digging into allegations of sexual abuse and conspiracy against Epstein. An additional federal investigation was launched Saturday after the Federal Bureau of Prison said Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell at a high-security jail in Manhattan. He was later pronounced dead from an apparent suicide, the BOP said.
New York City’s chief medical examiner released a statement Sunday evening saying an autopsy has been performed on Epstein, but that more information is needed before a cause of death determination is made.
Dr. Barbara Sampson said a city medical examiner performed the autopsy Sunday while a private pathologist observed the examination at the request of Epstein’s representatives.
The private pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden, was the city’s chief medical examiner in the late 1970s and has been called as an expert witness in high-profile cases including by the defense at O.J. Simpson’s 1994 murder trial.
Sampson said having a private pathologist observe an autopsy is a routine practice.