UPDATE: 8 p.m. — Prosecutors announced Thursday night that they’ve found the once-missing surveillance video showing the outside of Jeffrey Epstein’s cell during his alleged first attempt at suicide.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Swergold provided the update in a letter to Judge Kenneth Karas, according to a copy obtained by The New York Daily News.
“Earlier today, the government confirmed with MCC staff that the video was preserved by MCC staff upon defense counsel’s request,” Swergold wrote.
Surveillance footage of Jeffrey Epstein’s first suspected suicide attempt in federal prison this summer cannot be found, an attorney for the deceased financier’s former cellmate said Wednesday night.
Prior to his Aug. 10 death in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, Epstein was found unconscious in his cell with marks around his neck. The July 23 incident was investigated as a possible suicide attempt. At the time, the accused sex trafficker was sharing a cell with a former police officer accused of murder, Nick Tartaglione.
“I don’t know the details of how it was lost or destroyed or why it wasn’t retained when it should have been,” Tartaglione’s attorney Bruce Barket told the New York Post.
Barket and his client are currently waiting for more information about how and why the video was not preserved.
“Obviously if it was destroyed or lost that is disturbing,” Barket said in an email to CNBC.
Barket told The New York Times in July that Epstein and Tartaglione got along well and rejected the notion that his client was in any way responsible for the injuries. To the contrary, Tartaglione claims that he helped save Epstein’s life.
Footage of Epstein’s cell during the time of his death, which was ruled a suicide, was also not preserved because the nearest cameras were not functioning properly. A breakdown in prison operations also meant the guards tasked with checking in on him were napping and browsing the internet instead, officials have said. The Metropolitan Correctional Center is notorious for cramped, filthy conditions and understaffing.
By the time of his death, Epstein had convinced prison guards that he was not a threat to himself and so he was not on suicide watch and housed alone as he awaited trial. He was arrested July 6 after returning to the U.S. from Paris and charged with abusing dozens of young women and underage girls over a span of years.
Epstein’s accusers are now facing considerable legal challenges after shifting their focus to his multimillion-dollar estate.
Lydia O’Connor contributed reporting.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.