A judge ruled that Jeffrey Epstein presents a danger to his community. Is he also a danger to himself? Jail authorities placed the billionaire-ish sex offender on suicide watch after some sort of incident last night in which Epstein was injured.
But what exactly happened? No one’s sure yet:
Breaking overnight: Jeffrey Epstein is said to be back in a jail cell on suicide watch after he was found injured in his NYC jail cell.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 25, 2019
Accused pedophile and wealthy Manhattan financier Jeffrey Epstein was found injured and in a fetal position inside his cell at a New York City jail, according to sources close to the investigation.
Epstein, who is being held in Metropolitan Correctional Center during his trial for conspiracy and sex trafficking, was found semi-conscious with marks on his neck, two sources told News 4. Investigators are trying to piece together exactly what happened, saying details remain murky.
Two sources tell News 4 that Epstein may have tried to hang himself, while a third source cautioned that the injuries were not serious and questioned if Epstein might be using it as a way to get a transfer.
We’ll get back to that in a second. Investigators think that it could also be an attempted murder of Epstein, a possibility which isn’t out of the question given his (ahem) notoriety and the nature of his crimes. In fact, police even have a suspect in mind — one of their own who allegedly went bad in a big way:
Another inmate in that jail, where Epstein is being held without bail, has been questioned about the incident.
NBC reported that the inmate was Nicholas Tartaglione, a former Orange County, New York, police officer who was arrested in December 2016 and accused of killing four men in an alleged cocaine distribution conspiracy.
Sources told WNBC that Tartaglione claimed that he did not see anything happen to Epstein, and said he did not touch him. Tartaglione’s lawyer told the station that his client and Epstein get along with each other, and that Epstein was seen at the jail Wednesday and appeared to be fine.
Tartaglione has pleaded not guilty in his case. Prosecutors announced in March they would seek the death penalty for the ex-cop.
This seems unlikely, however, for a couple of reasons. Tartaglione isn’t immersed in the kind of hard-core prison culture that would exact jailhouse justice on a child molester; he’s a former cop looking to beat his current rap, not build his prison-yard cred. But if that’s what Tartaglione wanted to do, he’d have little trouble with Epstein even with all of the latter’s supposed martial-arts chops. (Speaking of which: wouldn’t Tartaglione have bruises or scratches if that kind of fight occurred?) He wouldn’t have let Epstein off with a few cuts and the ability to tell what happened.
So unless Epstein got attacked by a different inmate, that leaves us with either a suicide attempt or a hoax. Either one would be understandable; Epstein faces what would essentially be a life sentence in prison if convicted, and he has to know what the feds got when they searched his Manhattan house. If it was a suicide attempt, it wasn’t terribly well performed.
A successful hoax, though, might set up a new argument for his attorneys. If Epstein staged this to look like an attack, then his lawyers can argue that the judge now has to take the danger to Epstein into consideration for bail, perhaps with a pot sweetener on the bail amount. Get that $100 million jail ready! Even a hoax suicide attempt could work in Epstein’s favor in the bail appeal, although in that case prosecutors could argue that Epstein’s desperation makes him an even bigger flight risk, or a bigger suicide risk.
Maybe we’ll find out more in the next filings from Epstein’s attorneys. In the meantime, Epstein can expect a lot more scrutiny in his current digs.