Manhattan, NY – Jail security footage from outside Jeffrey Epstein’s cell from the day he attempted suicide have disappeared.
On Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Swergold revealed that the footage is nowhere to be found – despite requests from his cellmate’s attorney that the videos be retained, the New York Daily News reported.
Those requests were made two days after Epstein’s unsuccessful suicide attempt on July 23.
It is unclear whether the cameras outside the cell were not working at the time of the incident, or whether the footage was erased, The Journal News reported.
“It is our understanding…that the video no longer exists,” Swergold admitted to U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Karas. “It was not preserved.”
Karas told prosecutors to dig into what happened to the video.
Bruce Barket, the attorney for Epstein’s former cellmate, Nicholas Tartaglione, said he was shocked to discover that jail officials hadn’t safeguarded the footage, especially after he filed formal paperwork requesting that they do so, The Journal News reported.
Tartaglione, who is facing a possible death sentence in connection with a drug-related quadruple homicide, previously claimed that he helped to save Epstein’s life after he found him unconscious in their cell in the wake of the suicide attempt, the New York Daily News reported at the time.
Tartaglione, a former Briarcliff Manor police officer, had shared a cell with the billionaire for about two weeks prior to the suicide attempt.
“Nick acted appropriately and admirably,” Barket told the New York Daily News.
In the event the accused murderer is convicted, Tartaglione’s defense team wanted to have access to the video to argue that he does not deserve the death penalty.
“We think ultimately it will portray Nick in a positive light,” Barket told The Journal News.
Epstein was initially moved to another area of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) and placed on suicide watch after the failed attempt.
More than a week later, he was returned to the cellblock and given a new cellmate.
That unnamed inmate was taken out of the cell on Aug. 8, leaving the billionaire alone.
MCC correctional officers found the 66-year-old Tier 3 sex offender hanging in his cell at around 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10, according to ABC News.
Epstein was transported to New York Downtown Hospital in cardiac arrest before he was declared dead.
The billionaire had been jailed while facing charges for sexually abusing and trafficking children.
Despite the fact that it is protocol to put a prisoner who has just been taken off suicide watch in a cell with another prisoner, Epstein didn’t get a new roommate before he allegedly killed himself, The New York Times reported.
Two prison officials have said that the staff members on duty the night Epstein tried to kill himself were supposed to be checking on him every 30 minutes, but had not looked in on him for three hours before he was found hanging.
Officials said that the employees had falsely recorded checks every 30 minutes in the logbook.
Three different officials told The New York Times that both employees had been asleep some, or all, of the three-hour period that preceded them finding Epstein hanging from his upper bunk by a bedsheet.
Epstein, who was closely associated with former President Bill Clinton, was facing countless charges for incidents with underage girls in his various homes and on his private jet known as the “Lolita Express.”
His death was anything but clear-cut.
Authorities said Epstein was found hanging from a noose fashioned from bedsheets, tied to the side of his bed, and after an initial delay, the medical examiner ruled the death a suicide.
But a highly-respected pathologist hired by the billionaire’s family to observe the autopsy said late in October that the medical evidence suggested homicide was far more likely than suicide in Epstein’s case.
Former New York City Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Baden told FOX News Epstein had two fractures on the left and right sides of his larynx, specifically the thyroid cartilage or Adam’s apple, as well as one fracture on the left hyoid bone above the Adam’s apple.
“Those three fractures are extremely unusual in suicidal hangings and could occur much more commonly in homicidal strangulation,” the former medical examiner said. “I’ve not seen in 50 years where that occurred in a suicidal hanging case.”
The famous forensic pathologist has examined more than 20,000 bodies during his career, and said too many questions remained to call Epstein’s death a suicide.
“I think that the evidence points toward homicide rather than suicide because there are multiple, three fractures in the hyoid bone thyroid cartilage that are very unusual for suicide and more indicative of strangulation, homicidal strangulation,” Baden told FOX News.
The doctor said “hanging does not cause these broken bones, and homicide does.”
He stopped short of blatantly calling the medical examiner’s ruling wrong.
“It appears that this could have been a mistake,” Baden said. “There’s evidence here of homicide that should be investigated, to see if it is or isn’t homicide.”
That, on top of the fact that Epstein was left alone in his cell, the surveillance cameras nearby stopped working at the time of his death, and the guards on duty claim to have been napping when he died, has inspired a justified conspiracy theory that has become a viral social media phenomenon.
Baden said that the combination of security failures was something that he had never seen in 50 years of investigating and called the scenario “extremely unlikely.
Two federal Bureau of Prisons correctional officers, Michael Thomas and Tova Noel, were indicted in November in connection with Epstein’s death.
Correctional Officer Thomas has been charged with conspiracy and two counts of false records, according to CNBC.
Correctional Officer Noel has been charged with conspiracy and four counts of false records.
According to the indictment, the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) correctional officers “sat at their desk, browsed the internet, and moved around the common area” instead of carrying out their mandated prisoner checks on the night Epstein died, The New York Times reported.
“For a period of approximately two hours, Noel and Thomas sat at their desk without moving, and appeared to have been asleep,” the indictment read, according to CNBC.
They then allegedly falsified prison documents, and claimed to have checked on inmates when they really hadn’t.
“The defendants had a duty to ensure the safety and security of federal inmates in their care at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. “Instead, they repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction.”
Both correctional officers allegedly confessed to having shirked their duties during a conversation with a supervisor following Epstein’s death, CNBC reported.
“Epstein hung himself,” Correctional Officer Noel told the supervisor, according to the indictment. “We did not complete the 3 a.m. [nor] 5 a.m. rounds.”
“We messed up,” Correctional Officer Thomas allegedly added. “I messed up – she’s not to blame. We didn’t do any rounds.”
According to sources familiar with the case, the two correctional officers were recently offered plea deals after they were advised that federal prosecutors were preparing to file charges against them for allegedly fabricating official prison log entries, the Associated Press reported.
Both employees turned down the plea offers.