Federal prosecutors in New York revealed on Thursday that surveillance footage taken from outside of Jeffrey Epstein’s jail cell during his first apparent suicide attempt is gone due to a mistake in recordkeeping.
According to NBC News, prosecutors said the FBI discovered the error last week while reviewing a copy of the video given to the by Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) officials. They wrote in court documents that MCC officials “inadvertently preserved video from the wrong tier within the MCC and as a result, video from outside the defendant’s cell on July 22-23, 2019, no longer exists.”
The New York Daily News reported that federal prosecutors also claimed that MCC’s backup system for surveillance footage was non-functional. They wrote that the video in question has not been in the system since August 2019 due to “technical errors.”
In late December, Bruce Barket, the lawyer representing ex-cop and Epstein’s cellmate Nick Tartaglione, asked the court to preserve the footage depicting Epstein’s first suicide attempt. At the time, New York prosecutors reportedly said that the video was missing. A day later, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Swergold said the July 22 and 23 footage was archived, according to the Daily News.
Tartaglione was jailed for allegedly killing four people during a drug deal gone wrong. His attorney said the former officer alerted guards and rendered aid to Epstein during his first alleged suicide attempt.
Barket called it “stunning” that a video which should have been preserved regardless of his explicit request is gone. He also said it is “troubling” that authorities have provided inconsistent accounts regarding the footage’s disappearance.
“We believe that the video would have strongly corroborated our client’s assertion that he acted appropriately that evening and are deeply disturbed it has disappeared,” Barket wrote, according to the Daily News.
Epstein, 66, was jailed without bond in July following allegations that he sex-trafficked dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005. The registered sex offender reportedly hanged himself in his cell at the MCC on August 10.
In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty in Florida to procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and felony solicitation of prostitution. He served a 13-month sentence before being released on house arrest.
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[Featured image: Jeffrey Epstein/Handout]