The apparent suicide of alleged sex offender Jeffrey Epstein continues to mystify the nation, and how the 66-year-old was able to kill himself while incarcerated at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York is currently under FBI investigation, and U.S. Attorney General William Barr has opened up an official probe into the case.
Epstein’s body was found in his cell around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 10, and he was pronounced dead from cardiac arrest after being taken to the hospital. The financier was facing up to 45 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy and sex trafficking dozens of underage girls in the states of New York and Florida.
Epstein Was Alone & Unmonitored Prior to His Death, Sources Say
While conspiracy theories run wild on social media, more details have emerged on how Epstein could’ve committed suicide in such a maximum-security jail, the same prison facility which has held high profile defendants such as crime boss John Gotti, terrorist Ramzi Yousef, and Mexican drug lord, El Chapo, especially after his attempt to kill himself a mere two weeks prior.
After Epstein’s first suicide attempt, his cellmate, Nicholas Tartaglione, a 51-year-old former New York police officer awaiting trial on charges that he kidnapped and killed four men in New York in a potential death penalty case, was questioned in connection to the incident.
Tartaglione claimed to have helped Epstein after finding him unconscious in their cell. He immediately alerted the correction officers of the Epstein’s situation and credited himself for helping save his cellmate’s life.
An official with knowledge of the investigation told The New York Times that at the time of Epstein’s death, he was alone in his cell, and had been taken off suicide watch six days after his attempt to hang himself. The law enforcement official said in lieu of being on suicide watch, the financier was supposed to be checked by guards every 30 minutes in the protective housing unit, but that that procedure was not followed the night before Epstein’s death.
The source also mentioned that Epstein’s cellmate had been transferred out of their shared unit, which is another violation of the jail’s procedures. At the MCC, it’s reportedly standard practice for inmates on suicide watch to be assigned a cellmate, a person to provide company for someone with suicidal tendencies and to alert guards for any emergencies that may arise, as Tartaglione once did.
It’s currently unclear as to why Epstein’s cellmate was transferred out, or why guards were unable to check in on Epstein every half-hour as they were instructed. The two guards on duty during Epstein’s death were reportedly both working overtime. The official told the New York Times that one of the corrections officers was working his fifth straight day of OT.
Epstein’s suicide comes after a slew of once-sealed documents named prominent politicians, all of whom have denied the accusations, in connection with the Epstein scandal. Jeffrey Epstein, who was an extremely wealthy investment adviser, also spent time with some of the world’s most highly influential people, including President Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew. According to Politico, both the president and former president had flown on Epstein’s private planes. However, although Clinton and Trump knew Jeffrey Epstein, there have been no proven accusations of sexual impropriety involving them in connection with Epstein.
Tartaglione Had a Cell Phone Confiscated From Him in July
Tartaglione, Epstein’s former cellmate, is an ex-officer with the Briarcliff Manor Police Department in New York. Tartaglione retired from the police department in 2008 on disability after a career that was marked with scandals, including a 1999 arrest for lying to investigators that briefly led to his firing, before the case was overturned.
Tartaglione, who was a K-9 handler, was also accused of beating and harassing a local political gadfly and the city settled a $1 million lawsuit with him.
Tartaglione was accused of becoming involved in a drug ring after retiring from the police department. Federal authorities say he killed Martin Luna, Urbano Santiago, Miguel Luna and Hector Gutierrez, in 2016, in Chester, New York, in “gang-land style” executions.
The case against him was brought by former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, who said in a statement after Tartaglione’s arrest, “While all murders tear at the fabric of our communities, when the alleged perpetrator of a gangland-style, quadruple homicide is a former police officer, that strikes at the heart of civilized society. As alleged, Nicholas Tartaglione, a former Briarcliff Manor police officer, participated in the senseless murder of four people in a bar in Chester, New York. These four men had not been seen or heard from since the day of their alleged murder. We hope that today’s arrest brings some measure of comfort to the victims’ families and loved ones.”
Tartaglione was accused of having a cell phone in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in July 2019, according to LoHud.com. Correction officers took the phone from him on July 3, the newspaper reported. Federal prosecutors said in court documents that Tartaglione claimed his cellmate tossed him the phone as guards approached. Epstein was not at MCC at the time and therefore would not have been Tartaglione’s cellmate.
Tartaglione was also himself a victim of violence while at MCC. He was assaulted in 2018 and hospitalized for two weeks to have surgery to repair a fractured eye socket bone, LoHud reported.