Three weeks before indicted serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's Aug. 10 apparent suicide in Manhattan's federal Metropolitan Correctional Center, he had been found unresponsive in his cell with marks around his neck after a suspected suicide attempt. Lawyers for his cellmate at the time, Nicholas Tartaglione, asked MCC to preserve the surveillance video from that time period to prove that Tartaglione didn't assault Epstein but in fact intervened to save him. MCC agreed. On Thursday, federal prosecutors said that video "no longer exists."
Due to a clerical error, "the MCC inadvertently preserved video from the wrong tier within the MCC" and permanently deleted the footage from outside Epstein's cell, the prosecutors said in a court filing. After MCC lawyers identified the wrong cell, officials didn't watch the protected footage because "an MCC staff member confirmed that the video had been preserved," the filing continued. There is a system to back up all video from the Special Housing Unit where Epstein was being held, the prosecutors said, but an FBI review found that video on the backup system was erased "since at least August 2019 as a result of technical errors."
New York's medical examiner has ruled Epstein's death a suicide, and it would have been useful to have proof he'd tried to hang himself unsuccessfully before his death, if for no other reason than to tamp down persistent conspiracy theories that Epstein was murdered to protect his powerful friends from what Epstein knew of their sexual appetites.
Luckily, there is some footage from outside Epstein's cell on the morning he died. It is being used to prosecute his guards, who were supposed to have checked on him every 30 minutes but instead "browsed the internet for furniture, motorcycle sales, and sports news instead of monitoring Epstein in his cell, some 15 feet away in the Special Housing Unit," in the eighth hours before his death, according to their indictment.