Manhattan Jail Mistakenly Freed Bank Robber Before Epstein Suicide

The Metropolitan Correctional Facility, where Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his jail cell, is seen on August 10, 2019 in New York City. The financier, who faced sex trafficking charges, reportedly committed suicide overnight by hanging. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Three days before disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead of an apparent suicide in his jail cell, a career bank robber walked free from the same prison even though he had a year left to serve.

Michael Matthews, 58, had reached his eighth year of a nine-year prison sentence for committing a series of bank robberies when authorities released him from the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan last Wednesday, the New York Daily News reported.

The serial bank robber had a history of being on the run. The first time, he escaped custody in September 2018 after he failed to show up to a Brooklyn halfway house to complete his prison sentence.

Authorities say he also managed to rob three banks before authorities captured him.

Matthews pleaded guilty to the crimes and was at MCC awaiting sentencing when authorities accidentally released him.

“The government is currently seeking additional information about the circumstances prompting the defendant’s pre-sentencing release, and sets forth below those facts that the government has confirmed to date,” according to an August 13 letter from prosecutors to Judge Dora L. Irizarry about the mix up leading to Matthews’ early release.

The letter added that Matthews is currently back in jail after he surrendered to authorities on August 9.

Matthews’ sister, Susan, told the Daily News she was shocked her brother was facing additional charges.

“I didn’t know anything about this,” said Susan, 60, of Middle Village, Queens. “I thought he did everything he was supposed to do. I can’t believe it.”

Attorney General William Barr slammed the MCC on Monday for its “serious irregularities” after he learned the jail was inadequately secured.

Epstein, the alleged sex trafficker, was placed on suicide watch after prison officials found bruises on his neck July 23. About a week later, authorities took him off suicide watch.

He had two guards assigned to check on him every 30 minutes on the night he died, but the guards reportedly fell asleep and allegedly falsified documents to cover up their mistake.


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