Has there been a cover-up in Jeffrey Epstein’s death — and if so, to benefit who? CBS News reported last night that surveillance video in the Metropolitan Correctional Center shows that guards falsified records of welfare checks on Epstein, especially after authorities took the unusual step of removing his cellmate and not replacing him with another. Now two of the staffers have been suspended as well as the warden replaced, and a couple of the guards have retained attorneys:
Corrections officers may have falsified reports saying they checked on Jeffrey Epstein as required by protocol, according to a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation into Epstein’s apparent suicide.
Multiple sources told CBS News that Epstein’s cellmate at the Metropolitan Correctional Center posted bail last Friday, leaving Epstein alone in his cell the day before he died. Another source familiar with the investigation said it appears Epstein had been dead one to two hours before he was found.
The Associated Press hears the same about falsified records, although they put it more broadly. They weren’t doing the welfare checks on anyone in the unit:
A person familiar with the probe of Jeffrey Epstein’s death at a federal jail says guards are suspected of falsifying log entries to show they were checking on inmates in his unit every half hour, when they actually weren’t.
Epstein is believed to have killed himself early Saturday at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, where he was awaiting trial in a sex trafficking case.
Surveillance video reviewed after the death showed guards never made some of the checks noted in the log, according to the person familiar with the investigation.
The New York Times puts the cover-up’s focus more specifically on Epstein, but post-mortem. It also explains why staffers may need to lawyer up, now that they’re awake:
Six days later, prison officials determined that he was no longer a threat to his own life and returned him to a cell in the 9 South housing unit with another inmate, officials said. That inmate was later transferred out of the cell, leaving Mr. Epstein alone on Friday night. …
The two staff members in the special housing unit where Mr. Epstein was held — 9 South — falsely recorded in a log that they had checked on the financier, who was facing sex trafficking charges, every 30 minutes, as was required, two of the officials said. Such false entries in an official log could constitute a federal crime.
In fact, the two people guarding Mr. Epstein had been asleep for some or all of the three hours, three of the officials said. …
Two prison officials familiar with the incident said the two staff members had not looked in on Mr. Epstein for about three hours before he was found.
All of this might answer a couple of questions, but it also prompts more than a few of its own. It’s possible that Hanlon’s Razor applies here — never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence — and the falsified records could suggest the latter. After finding a high-profile inmate dead of a suicide, the guards might have thought that they could cover themselves by doctoring the logs. Alternately, they could have been doctoring logs all along and just had the misfortune of it biting them on the butt when the most prominent detainee they’ve had took advantage of their non-performance.
However, one cannot help noticing that all of these “incompetencies” run in the same direction. Epstein attempts suicide, but then gets taken off suicide watch after only a week. His cellmate makes bail, and the overcrowded and understaffed jail somehow forgets to assign Epstein another. Once alone, Epstein’s guards skip their rounds and then fall asleep on the job. That’s a suspicious string of circumstances that all combine to give Epstein nothing more than a lot of room to kill himself — or give someone else a chance to kill him.
If Hanlon’s Razor doesn’t apply, then one has to ask: cui bono? Epstein himself might have arranged it, a possibility that the FBI will no doubt thoroughly explore. If any of the sleepyheads at MCC has recently received a large amount of money, and it can be traced back to Epstein, then the mystery will be solved. They might have received a large amount of money from someone else, though, someone who might have been worried that Epstein would start talking to cut another deal. Or it could be just as simple as guards figuring Epstein was a scumbag who didn’t warrant a welfare check and that no one would miss him when he checked out on his own.
The threat of federal charges might convince one or more of the guards to talk, if there’s anything more to this than sheer incompetence. After all, they’ve seen the inside of MCC from the guards’ side. They won’t want to spend much time there from the opposite perspective.