New York • Two federal workers who were on duty the night Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan jail are expected to be charged Tuesday in connection with their alleged failure to check on him every half-hour, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The two Federal Bureau of Prisons employees were expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
The charges would be the first to arise from a criminal investigation into the death of Epstein, the disgraced financier who hanged himself at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
Epstein, 66, had been in custody for more than a month when he was found dead on Aug. 10. New York City’s chief medical examiner ruled the death a suicide.
The workers came under scrutiny shortly after Epstein’s death because they were responsible for monitoring the high-security protective housing unit where Epstein, who had only recently been removed from a suicide watch, was being held.
Rather than checking on Epstein every 30 minutes as they were supposed to, the workers fell asleep for hours and falsified records to cover up what they had done, according to several officials with knowledge of the matter.
Jose Rojas, an official in the prison workers’ union and a teacher at the Coleman prison complex in Sumter County, Florida, said that, although he did not condone falsifying records, the two prison staff members were being scapegoated for Epstein’s death.
Rojas said missing rounds and doctoring records was generally treated as a policy violation in the bureau, not as a criminal matter.
Epstein had pleaded not guilty and was set to go on trial next year. If he had been convicted, he would have faced up to 45 years in prison.
By the time of his death, Epstein had been taken off suicide watch but was supposed to have another inmate in his cell. The prison allowed him to be housed alone the day he died, Rojas said.
Additionally, the Manhattan jail had been short staffed for quite some time. On the night when Epstein died, both staff members were working overtime. One had volunteered to work, having already done several tours of overtime that week. The other had been forced to work a 16-hour double shift.