DOJ reassigns warden after Epstein's apparent suicide

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGOP rep predicts watchdog report on alleged FISA abuses will find 'problems' Barr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse MORE has ordered the Bureau of Prisons to temporarily reassign the warden at the New York federal prison where accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was found dead over the weekend pending federal investigations into his apparent suicide.

Two staff members assigned to Epstein’s unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in lower Manhattan have also been placed on administrative leave, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Tuesday, noting additional actions may be taken if warranted.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) disclosed the developments Tuesday afternoon, one day after Barr expressed outrage over Epstein's death and spoke of “serious irregularities" at the federal prison in New York.

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“I was appalled — indeed, the entire department was — and, frankly, angry to learn of the MCC’s failure to adequately secure this prisoner. We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and that demand a thorough investigation,” Barr said during remarks at a law enforcement conference in New Orleans on Monday morning.

“We will get to the bottom of what happened at the MCC and we will hold people accountable for this failure,” Barr said.

Kupec said Tuesday that the MCC warden, whose name is Lamine N'diaye, would be reassigned to the bureau’s Northeast Regional Office while the FBI and Justice Department inspector general investigate the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death.

James Petrucci has been named acting warden of the MCC, the Justice Department added.

“The Bureau of Prisons also placed on administrative leave two MCC staff assigned to Mr. Epstein’s unit pending the outcome of the investigations. Additional actions may be taken as the circumstances warrant," Kupec said.

Epstein, a registered sex offender following an earlier conviction in 2008, was found dead of apparent suicide in his cell early Saturday morning. He had been placed on suicide watch back in late July after reportedly being found with marks on his neck.

The developments over the weekend have triggered questions about the circumstances of his death and massive scrutiny of the conditions at the detention facility.

Various reports have described the federal jail as being short-staffed and some have suggested that corrections officers did not follow protocol by regularly checking on Epstein during his detention.

Epstein, a wealthy financier with ties to multiple powerful people, had been held at the detention facility since July 6 when he was arrested on federal sex trafficking charges. His death cuts short a high-profile criminal prosecution, though Barr insisted Monday that prosecutors would continue their investigation into the sex trafficking allegations.

“Let me assure you this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein,” Barr said. “Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice and they will get it.” 

—Updated on Aug. 14 at 7:32 a.m.

—An earlier version of this report misidentified the warden who was reassigned.