Jeffrey Epstein was found semiconscious with marks on his neck in his jail cell July 23. File Photo courtesy of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice
Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Surveillance footage from outside Jeffrey Epstein's jail cell at the time of his first attempt at suicide wasn't preserved, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Thursday.
The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan said prosecutors asked the Metropolitan Correctional Center to preserve the video footage dated July 22-23. After reviewing the footage, prosecutors said they realized the MCC "inadvertently preserved video from the wrong tier" within the jail.
As a result of the apparent mistake, the actual footage in question "no longer exists."
Prosecutors began investigating conditions at MCC and the circumstances of Epstein's first suspected suicide attempt after he killed himself Aug. 10 in his jail cell.
"The government understands from speaking with MCC legal counsel that there was a backup system in place that housed all video for the Special Housing Unit, including the video requested by defense counsel," U.S. Attorney Geoffrey German said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas.
"The government further understands from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that it has reviewed that backup system as part of an unrelated investigation and determined that the requested video no longer exists on the backup system and has not since at least August 2019 as a result of technical errors."
The court filing was part of a case involving former Westchester County police officer Nicholas Tartaglione, who shared a jail cell with Epstein on the day of his first suicide attempt. Epstein was found semiconscious in his cell with marks on his neck July 23; Tartaglione was cleared of any wrongdoing for that incident.
Epstein was arrested in July as part of a joint New York City Police Department-FBI investigation and he was charged with one count each of sex trafficking and conspiracy. He pleaded not guilty.
The millionaire financier, who was forced to register as a sex offender in Florida for a 2008 conviction, was accused of giving girls "hundreds of dollars in cash" to engage in sexual acts at his mansions in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla., and sometimes paid victims to recruit other victims. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York said the reported incidents occurred between 2002 and 2005.