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A new watchdog report detailed an investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s death.
Here are five takeaways.
Epstein’s Phone Call
Epstein was found dead in his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York on Aug. 10, 2019. The day before, he was allowed to make an unrecorded, unmonitored call, which went against Bureau of Prisons policy.
Records reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, the watchdog that conducted the probe, show that Epstein dialed a local 646 number after claiming he was going to call his mother.
Epstein’s mother died in 2004.
The manager of the unit in which Epstein was being held let Epstein make the call. The manager told investigations that he dialed a number Epstein provided. A male answered. The manager then gave the phone to Epstein, who was quoted as saying: “Hey, how are you doing? How’s everything?”
Epstein spoke with the person for about 20 minutes.
Investigators identified the person on the other end. They sought an interview with the person, who was not identified in the report, but the person declined. A lawyer representing the person said that the person was in Belarus during the call. If true, the call was connected through a local number.
According to the lawyer, Epstein discussed how the media had been reporting on him. The call also went over “personal things such as books, music, and hygiene while incarcerated,” according to the report.
“According to the representations by Individual 1’s counsel, Epstein told Individual 1, ‘They are trying to keep me safe,’ and that his case would take a little longer than he originally thought,” the report stated. “He told Individual 1 he loved her, to be strong, and that he would not be able to call her again for another month.”
The manager said he left after handing the phone to Epstein because his shift was over. The manager acknowledged he should have placed the phone on speaker and monitored the call, especially after a male answered, contradicting Epstein’s claim of calling his mother.
The manager said three individuals were nearby, the officer in charge of the unit for the evening, another officer, Tova Noel, and a senior officer specialist.
The evening officer said that he was present when the call was made but that he did not overhear the conversation. The officer said that during the call, officers were distracted by unspecified actions by another inmate. Noel said she did not monitor the call. The specialist said he did not witness the call.
A fourth officer identified by Noel as being around at the time told investigators he did not recall Epstein being in the area or making a call that evening.
The manager told investigators that he allowed Epstein to make an unmonitored call because he thought Epstein had been unable to obtain documentation to use the normal phone system.
That was false, investigators found. Epstein had obtained the documentation.
The Bureau of Prisons northeast regional director said that Epstein making the unmonitored call was concerning because “we don’t know what happened on that phone call.” The call “could have potentially led to” Epstein’s death, “but we will never know,” the director said.
Misconduct by officers, including forging records, led to the death, investigators said.
Noel and Michael Thomas, for instance, falsified records to show they’d been making required rounds when they actually did not check on Epstein after 10:40 p.m. on Aug. 9, 2019.
Noel and Thomas entered a deferred prosecution agreement after admitting to falsifying records.
U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres dismissed the charges in January at the request of prosecutors.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which brought the case, declined to prosecute other employees despite investigators finding they falsified records, the inspector general’s office said.
Those records included documents on inmate counts and inmate checks on the day before and the day of Epstein’s death, the report stated.
The attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Moment Epstein Was Discovered
Officers finally began checking on inmates as they delivered them breakfast around 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2019. That’s when they discovered Epstein.
Thomas knocked on Epstein’s door but there was no response, prompting Thomas to open it, Noel told investigators. Thomas said that Epstein had an orange string around his neck that was tied to a portion of the bunkbed, leaving him suspended. He ripped the string from the bed and lowered him to the ground before starting to perform CPR.
“Breathe, Epstein, breathe,” Thomas was quoted as saying by Noel. He was also quoted as saying, “We’re going to be in so much trouble.”
Noel said she did not enter the cell and that Epstein looked blue, was shirtless, and did not have anything on or around his neck.
After a lieutenant responded to the area, Noel said, Thomas told her, “we [messed] up.”
The lieutenant told investigators that after arriving, Noel said that “we didn’t do rounds at 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.” while Thomas said “we didn’t do the rounds. We messed up.” A technician who helped deliver food in the aftermath of the death told investigators that inmates said: “You weren’t making rounds. You killed him.”
The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner determined, following an autopsy, that Epstein killed himself by hanging.
Pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, after observing the autopsy, said that the evidence was more indicative of homicide. Epstein had tried killing himself about two weeks prior, according to his cellmate, and Epstein was briefly placed on suicide watch.
The medical examiner told the Office of the Inspector General that Epstein’s injuries were consistent with suicide by hanging and that there were no wounds that one would expect if Epstein had been defending himself against another person.
“Epstein did not have marks on his hands, broken fingernails or debris under them, contusions to his knuckles that would have evidenced a fight, or, other than an abrasion on his arm likely due to convulsing from hanging, bruising on his body,” the report stated, citing the examiner.