Left Menu
Development News Edition

UPDATE 5-U.S. government shakes up staffing at jail where financier Epstein died

Reuters | Washington DC | Updated: 14-08-2019 00:32 IST | Created: 14-08-2019 00:28 IST
UPDATE 5-U.S. government shakes up staffing at jail where financier Epstein died
Image Credit: Wikipedia

The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday announced a staff shakeup at the federal jail where financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in an apparent suicide while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, temporarily reassigning the warden and placing two corrections officers on administrative leave.

The announcement was made hours after President Donald Trump said he wanted a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding Epstein's death. Epstein was found dead on Saturday morning, having apparently hanged himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in lower Manhattan. Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said that James Petrucci, the warden at Federal Correctional Institution Otisville in New York, has been named as acting warden at MCC.

The previous warden's reassignment is pending the outcome of investigations by the FBI and Inspector General into Epstein's death the department said. U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Monday vowed to carry on the Epstein investigation even after the wealthy and well-connected money manager's death. Barr has ordered the Justice Department's inspector general to look into the matter.

The 66-year-old financier had been on suicide watch, but a source familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity said he was not on watch at the time of his death. At the MCC, two jail guards are required to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed overnight, according to the source.

"Basically what we're saying is we want an investigation. I want a full investigation, and that's what I absolutely am demanding. That's what our attorney general, our great attorney general is doing. He's doing a full investigation," Trump told reporters in Morristown, New Jersey. Trump also defended his decision on Saturday to retweet an unfounded conspiracy theory from a conservative comedian named Terrence K. Williams that former President Bill Clinton was involved in Epstein's death.

"He's a very highly respected conservative pundit," said of Williams. "He's a big Trump fan. And that was a retweet. That wasn't from me. ... So I think I was fine." Epstein, who once counted Trump and Clinton as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls as young as 14.

New York City's medical examiner has said an autopsy on Epstein was completed on Sunday, but the cause of death remained pending. A growing chorus of lawmakers has demanded that the government hold responsible people who allegedly helped Epstein engage in sex trafficking.

Senator Ben Sasse, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee, on Tuesday called on Barr to void a 2008 agreement that Epstein entered into with federal prosecutors in Florida that has been widely criticized as too lenient. Under that deal, Epstein pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges and served 13 months in jail, but was allowed to leave the detention facility regularly for his office.

'CROOKED DEAL'

Some of Epstein's accusers have called on the federal judge overseeing that case to scrap portions of the agreement, which provided immunity to Epstein's alleged co-conspirators. In a letter to Barr, Sasse said the agreement should be thrown out altogether.

"This crooked deal cannot stand," and should be voided to "ensure that some measure of justice is finally delivered to Epstein's victims who have been let down time and time again by their government," Sasse said. One of the prosecutors involved in the 2008 agreement, Alexander Acosta, resigned as Trump's labor secretary in July as the Epstein deal came under fresh scrutiny after the financier's arrest in New York.

Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, and Doug Collins, the panel's top Republican, on Monday sent a letter to the acting director of the federal Bureau of Prisons regarding Epstein's death, saying the "competency and rigor of our criminal justice system" have been marred. The lawmakers said if the allegation about mistakes made at the facility is true, it would demonstrate "severe miscarriages of or deficiencies in inmate protocol and has allowed the deceased to ultimately evade facing justice."

A representative for the agency and its acting director, Hugh Hurwitz, were not immediately available to comment. The Epstein scandal has also enmeshed Leslie Wexner, the billionaire chairman and chief executive behind Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works parent L Brands Inc, who had previously entrusted Epstein to manage his personal finances and serve as trustee of his charitable foundation.

Wexner recently hired white-collar defense lawyer Mary Jo White, a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and former U.S. attorney in Manhattan, according to a person familiar with the matter, as scrutiny of Epstein's finances intensifies. Wexner has not been accused of criminal wrongdoing.

Neither White nor a representative for Wexner immediately responded to requests for comment. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan declined to comment.

Also Read: Donald Trump not behaving like a patriot: Tulsi Gabbard


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Pride in the time of coronavirus: a welcome move online?

This year is different in many ways not least as celebrations are also taking place against the dramatic backdrop of a global health crisis and a resurgence in grassroots activism following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. ...

COVID-19: Weighing up the benefits and limitations of edtech platforms

Edtech companies shouldnt focus on merely pushing contents, but to provide an interactive, effective teaching and learning environment. ...

Shipping industry's COVID-19 resilience test could boost digitalization

The push towards digitalization in shipping industry was already happening and has been further accelerated by the pandemic as current practices are not tenable under present circumstances and would definitely not be in the future....

Health is pure science but why objectivity eludes WHO

We certainly need a global body to coordinate responses against health emergencies. However, this sheer need of humanity on this planet should not be milked by the World Organization WHO to overshadow constructive criticism and call for ref...

Videos

Latest News

Buy from neighbourhood shops, says Mumbai police commissioner

Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh on Thursday appealed people to patronize neighbourhood shops for essential shopping amid the coronavirus pandemic. There is night curfew in the city between 9 pm to 5 am and exception will be made ...

US Senator to block military promotions until assurances on former White House aide

Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said on Thursday that she would put a hold on the confirmation of over 1,000 military promotions until Defense Secretary Mark Esper provided assurances on the promotion of a former White House aide wh...

TobiWan quitting esports following allegations

Dota 2 commentator Toby TobiWan Dawson stated his innocence Thursday but said he is quitting esports after allegations of sexual assault and harassment. I want to make it very clear I am not guilty of any criminal offense, he posted on Twit...

ICMR selects 12 institutes for clinical trial of COVID-19 vaccine

The ICMR has selected 12 institutes, including one from Odisha, for clinical trial of the countrys first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, an official said on Thursday. Bhubaneswar-based Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital under the S...

Give Feedback