Attorney General William Barr said the suicide of notorious pedophile Jeffrey Epstein in a Lower Manhattan lockup was the result of “a perfect storm of screw-ups,” as he sought to dampen conspiracy theories about the death.
“I can understand people who immediately, whose minds went to sort of the worst-case scenario because it was a perfect storm of screw-ups,” Barr told The Associated Press.
His comments come days after two correctional officers who were responsible for guarding the wealthy financier when he hanged himself at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in August were charged with conspiracy and falsifying jail records.
Officers Tova Noel, 31, and Michael Thomas, 41, allegedly fudged “count slips” while failing for hours to check on Epstein in the MCC’s ninth-floor Special Housing Unit while awaiting trial for sex trafficking.
The AG said his concerns were prompted by the many irregularities at the jail — but added that after the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general continued their probes, he realized that a “series” of mistakes gave Epstein the chance to take his own life.
On Wednesday, former Utah US Attorney Brett Tolman said “you have to be concerned” about the suicide, which he called “more than coincidental.”
He called the charges against the two officers “a placeholder while they look at, is there a conspiracy, are there more people that are involved in this, are there inconsistencies with suicide?”
Barr pushed back at conspiracy theories, saying that as the city medical examiner has ruled, the evidence proves that Epstein killed himself, adding that he personally reviewed security video that confirmed that no one entered the area where Epstein was housed on the night he died.
Epstein was placed on suicide watch after he was found July 23 in his cell with marks on his neck but was taken off the heightened watch about a week before his death, meaning he was less closely monitored but still had to be checked on every 30 minutes.
He was required to have a cellmate, but was left alone after his cellmate was transferred out of the MCC on Aug. 9, the day before his death, according the indictment.
The Justice Department is still investigating the death, including why Epstein didn’t have a cellmate.
“I think it was important to have a roommate in there with him and we’re looking into why that wasn’t done, and I think every indication is that was a screw-up,” Barr said. “The systems to assure that was done were not followed.”
Barr has vowed to aggressively investigate and bring charges against anyone who may have helped Epstein. He said investigators were making good progress in the case.
“They are definitely pushing things along,” he said. “I’ll just say there is good progress being made, and I’m hopeful in a relatively short time there will be tangible results.”
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