Epstein Surveillance Video ‘No Longer Exists’
The mystery around Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged suicide in a N.Y. prison cell deepens once again upon reports that videotape of his first suicide attempt has vanished.
U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday that surveillance video taken outside notorious pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s cell during his first alleged suicide attempt was permanently deleted as “a result of technical errors.” The instance is just the latest in a long series of extreme irregularities – including falsified guard records, other malfunctioned cameras, inconsistencies with the ligature allegedly used for suicide, strange wounds, muscle hemorrhaging, and an injection mark, to name a few – that surrounded the high-profile sex offender‘s death and imprisonment.
A letter filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason Swergold and Maurene Comey, the daughter of former FBI chief James Comey, said “the footage contained on the preserved video was for the correct date and time, but captured a different tier than the one where Cell-1 was located.”
“The requested video no longer exists on the backup system and has not since at least August 2019 as a result of technical errors,” said the prosecutors.
NPR notes that the Manhattan Metropolitan Correctional Center has “a backup system in place to store all video from the Special Housing Unit, where Epstein and Tartaglione were being held at the time.” However, “technical errors” appear to have deleted the backup recording as well, as a “review by the FBI found that the video on the backup system was also erased ‘since at least August 2019 as a result of technical errors.'”
The footage would have shown Epstein’s alleged first suicide attempt on July 23, where he was found semiconscious with wounds on his neck and placed on suicide watch. He was taken off suicide watch before his death on August 9.
Frank Tartaglione, Epstein’s Cellmate
Epstein denied attempting suicide, reportedly telling his lawyers that his wounds were inflicted by his cellmate Frank Tartaglione, a hulking former New York police officer facing homicide and drug conspiracy charges. Critics find it strange that Epstein was put in the same cell as Tartaglione, a man with the physique of a bodybuilder for whom prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for an alleged quadruple homicide.
Meanwhile, Tartaglione denied hurting Epstein and was cleared of involvement in the event. His lawyer Bruce Barket later requested footage of the episode, arguing that the recording would show that his client had acted “admirably”, possibly even helping an unconscious Epstein.
Tartaglione’s lawyer said that guards at the Manhattan Metropolitan Correctional Center have been threatening his client to stay quiet about the Epstein case:
“The clear message Mr. Tartaglione has received is that if he conveys information about the facility or about [Epstein’s] recent suicide, there will be a price to pay,” Barket said in an August letter to Kenneth Karas, a federal judge. “Whether or not the investigators into the suicide chose to interview Mr. Tartaglione about the attempted suicide to which he was witness or about how the facility is run and the conditions under which the inmates are forced to live, the correction officers know he has information potentially very damaging to the very people now charged with guarding him or their coworkers.”
Barket said Thursday that he would request U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas hold a hearing on the missing footage with testimony from prison officials.
“The video would further corroborate the events of July 23rd and we believe would have supported our client’s position that he acted appropriately that evening,” Barket wrote in an email. “The various and inconsistent accounts of what happened to that video are deeply troubling.”
The video would also have been of vital significance because Dr. Barbara Sampson, the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City who overruled another pathologist to declare Epstein’s death a suicide, cited his alleged prior suicide attempt as part of her reasoning for her ruling.
“Dr. Kristin Roman, a medical examiner for New York City who conducted the autopsy that Dr. Baden observed, at first did not classify the death as a suicide and listed the manner of death as ‘pending,'” wrote Brit McCandless Farmer for CBS’ 60 Minutes investigation.
“A few days later, Dr. Sampson said she had reviewed additional evidence and changed the ruling to suicide. She has not revealed what the additional evidence was, but sources tell 60 Minutes that one element was his alleged prior suicide attempt.”
Long List Of Irregularities In Epstein Case
The deleted footage of Epstein’s first alleged suicide attempt is the latest in a long list of extreme irregularities surrounding the death of the mysterious figure, who was accused of trafficking dozens of underaged girls to his rich and powerful network.
Shortly after Epstein’s death, cameras outside of his cell were found to have malfunctioned and his prison guards were accused of falsifying their logs to avoid checking on him for hours.
Famous pathologist Michael Baden bolstered public skepticism about the official Epstein explanation late last year after stating that the evidence is more consistent with homicide strangulation than suicidal hanging.
Baden, who was hired by Epstein’s brother to conduct an independent investigation, noted in November that the pathologist who actually performed the autopsy, Dr. Kristin Roman, did not find that Epstein hung himself and determined the case “pending.”
“The autopsy did not support suicide,’’ Baden said. “That’s what she put down. Then Dr. Sampson changed it a week later, manner of death to suicide. The brother has been trying to find out why that changed. … What was the evidence?”
A 60 Minutes documentary released on Sunday shed more light on Epstein’s death, including questions about the fabric he allegedly used to strangle himself. At least two nooses of bed sheets were seen on the floor, meaning investigators may have examined the wrong fabric. Sources told 60 Minutes that a guard cut the ligature in an attempt to save Epstein, but “both ends of the noose were folded and hemmed, not cut.”
“It doesn’t look like anybody ever took scissors to it,” 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi said. “So there is some question—is that the right noose?'” Additionally, there was blood on Epstein’s neck in the pictures, but it was absent from the bedsheet ligature.
The removal of Epstein’s body was also a violation of protocol, as the Bureau of Prisons demands that a suicide scene be treated with the “same level of protection as any crime scene in which a death has occurred.” Epstein is believed to have been dead for around 2 hours at the time guards found him in a kneeling position with the bedsheet around his neck. A former inmate at the facility said there was no way he killed himself with the bedsheet, because it is “paper level, not strong enough.”
Baden and other pathologists pointed out that Epstein’s injuries were more consistent with strangulation than suicide by hanging:
“Among the injuries found on Epstein during the autopsy are contusions on both wrists, an abrasion on his left forearm, and deep muscle hemorrhaging in his left shoulder muscle,” wrote CBS. “Photos 60 Minutes reviewed also show an injury to the back of his neck, a cut on his lip, and an injection mark in his arm, though it is unknown whether the latter injuries happened during an attempt to resuscitate Epstein at the hospital.”
Dr. Baden said small burst capillaries, known as petechiae, found on Epstein’s face, mouth, and eyes are often an indication of strangulation. But it was injuries to Epstein’s neck that made Dr. Baden call into question the official ruling of suicide.
“I have never seen three fractures like this in a suicidal hanging,” Dr. Baden told 60 Minutes on the broadcast. He added: “Going over a thousand jail hangings, suicides in the New York City state prisons over the past 40–50 years, no one had three fractures.”
Pathologists differed in how significant the injuries were, with one saying they could be possible in suicide by hanging because of Epstein’s 66-year old age. Another said the wounds were more common in homicide, but not impossible in suicidal hangings, and a last pathologist said such injuries were “very uncommon and raise additional questions.”
Others have pointed to the difficulty that Epstein’s 6-foot frame would have in strangling himself from his bedpost, and photos from the 60 Minutes investigation show medicine and bottles standing upright on his top bunk.
According to Epstein lawyer Reid Weingarten, when Epstein’s attorneys him shortly before his death, “we did not see a despairing, despondent, suicidal person.”
While the mainstream media often dismisses allegations of foul play in Epstein’s death as “conspiracy theories”, it is important to note that multiple outlets purposefully suppressed their coverage of the well-connected child sex trafficker for years.
Attorney General William Barr, who oversees the Bureau of Prisons, has called the strange circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death the “perfect storm of screw ups.” Barr was originally asked to recuse himself from the case because of his past connections with Epstein, having formerly worked at Kirkland and Ellis, a prominent law firm that has represented the registered sex offender. Barr’s father also hired Epstein to work at an elite Manhattan private school in the 1970s, even though he did not have a degree.
Federal authorities are reportedly continuing a probe into Epstein’s network of enablers, such as socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, although critics point to their extreme incompetence as reason to doubt the sincerity of their investigation.
Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary Alex Acosta was a federal prosecutor in charge of the Epstein case in 2008, but accepted a 13-month plea deal for the high-profile pedophile that granted immunity to all of his co-conspirators and shut at least 40 of his teenage accusers out of the process. Epstein was given “work release privileges” for his 13-month sentence that allowed him to leave the jail six days a week, 12 hours a day, to work in a comfortable office. According to the Miami Herald, sheriff department rules clearly state that sex offenders are not qualified for work release.
In an article with the Daily Beast, journalist Vicky J. Ward alleged that Epstein’s former prosecutor and Trump administration Labor Secretary Alex Acosta was told to back off the Epstein case because he “belonged to intelligence.”
“’Is the Epstein case going to cause a problem [for confirmation hearings]?’ Acosta had been asked,” wrote Ward. “Acosta had explained, breezily, apparently, that back in the day he’d had just one meeting on the Epstein case. He’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had ‘been told’ to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. ‘I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone,’ he told his interviewers in the Trump transition, who evidently thought that was a sufficient answer and went ahead and hired Acosta. (The Labor Department had no comment when asked about this.)”
Others, including alleged former Israeli spy Ari Ben-Menashe and Mintpress’ Whitney Webb, have posed Epstein’s alleged ties to the intelligence community as reason for the bizarre circumstances surrounding his prosecution and imprisonment.
Ward was assigned to write a profile of Epstein in 2003 for Vanity Fair after his numerous flights with former President Bill Clinton attracted public attention. Ward’s editor forced her to remove accusations of sexual abuse against Epstein from the article after he was reportedly threatened by the multi-millionaire pedophile.