Law & the Courts

AG Barr Reassigns Epstein Prison Warden, Places Two Guards on Leave

Attorney General William Barr testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, May 1, 2019. (Aaron Bernstein/Reuters)

Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday ordered that the warden of the federal prison where billionaire and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein apparently committed suicide over the weekend be reassigned and that two guards who were responsible for Epstein be placed on leave.

Warden Shirley Skipper-Scott of Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan will be temporarily reassigned to an office job at the Bureau of Prisons’s Northeast Regional Office while the FBI and DOJ investigate Epstein’s apparent suicide. Two guards who were assigned to Epstein’s unit have been placed on administrative leave. The Justice Department has named James Petrucci, the warden of Federal Correctional Institution, Otisville, as the temporary warden of MCC.

“Additional actions may be taken as the circumstances warrant,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.

Barr expressed outrage that Epstein, 66, was apparently able to commit suicide by hanging himself Saturday morning in the maximum-security prison, just a day after hundreds of pages of court documents detailing sexual-abuse claims against him were unsealed.

“I was appalled, and indeed the whole department was, and frankly angry, to learn of the MCC’s failure to adequately secure this prisoner,” Barr said Monday, adding that the DOJ is aware of “serious irregularities” at the prison and vowing a “thorough investigation.”

“We will get to the bottom of what happened,” the attorney general said. “Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice and they will get it.”

At the time of his death, Epstein had been charged with the sex trafficking of minors as young as 14. He was discovered three weeks earlier on the floor of his cell with marks on his neck, leading prison officials to place him on suicide watch. He was taken off suicide watch shortly before his death.

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