Attorney General William Barr said Monday the Department of Justice has found “serious irregularities” at the New York City jail where Jeffrey Epstein died in an apparent suicide over the weekend and warned that no suspected co-conspirator should assume the case against the millionaire investor is now closed.
“I was appalled and indeed the whole department was, and frankly angry, to learn of the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s failure to adequately secure this prison,” Barr told reporters at a press conference in New Orleans.
“We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation. The FBI and office of the inspector general are doing just that. We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability,” he added.
The attorney general also issued a warning to those who may have conspired with Epstein, saying they “should not rest easy.”
“Let me assure you this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein. Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice and they will get it,” he said.
Ghislaine Maxwell, known as Epstein’s former girlfriend and personal assistant, is one of the financier’s alleged co-conspirators and may still face charges. She is accused of recruiting teenage girls for Epstein and his associates.
Barr’s comments came after media reports said Epstein had been taken off suicide watch following an apparent attempt to take his own life last month.
The Associated Press reported that prison guards were working overtime due to major staff shortages at the facility and that Epstein had been left without a cellmate, which was against protocol.
Cameron Lindsay, a former warden who worked at three federal prisons, said Epstein’s removal from the suicide watch list is “shocking.”
“For them to pull him off suicide watch is shocking. For someone this high-profile, with these allegations and this many victims, who has had a suicide attempt in the last few weeks, you can take absolutely no chances. You leave him on suicide watch until he’s out of there,” Lindsay told NBC News. “It’s too early to say what I think should happen, but if this did occur as we believe that it did, some staff are going to have some hard questions to answer.”
On Sunday, the Washington Post reported Epstein’s cellmate was transferred the night before the high-flying businessman’s death. “That left Epstein, who had previously been placed on suicide watch, alone and unmonitored — at least in the hours before his death — by even those officers assigned to guard him,” according to the Post.
Epstein, a convicted pedophile who hobnobbed with countless politicians and celebrities over the years, was found dead in his cell Saturday while awaiting trial on federal charges he trafficked underage girls for sex.
Prosecutors said Epstein sexually exploited dozens of underage teens, some as young as 14, at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005.
Epstein, who faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted, denied the charges.
The AFP contributed to this report.