The video of Jeffrey Epstein’s cell, during the first attempt to take the child-molester’s life, has vanished in a puff of electrons. The official theory is that he was trying to kill himself, but that has been strongly challenged.
There was even an initial suspect, his cellmate. Only two days after the incident, which happened the night of July 22, 2019, the lawyer for Nicholas Tartaglione requested the footage. He also demanded that the evidence be preserved, which should have made everyone extra careful about the way it was obtained and stored.
In an ever-expanding game of hide the ball, federal prosecutors first said the footage was lost. Then, In mid-December, they said they found it and would turn it over.
On Dec. 18, 2019, the assistant U.S. attorney advised the court that nobody could find the video. A day later, he wrote that the government confirmed with staff at the Metropolitan Correctional Center that the video was just fine.
On Thursday, prosecutors wrote a letter to the judge and other parties admitting that they didn’t have it after all.
Here is today’s letter in full explaining how surveillance video from the night of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged first suicide attempt in July no longer exists because MCC jail inadvertently preserved video from wrong cell. pic.twitter.com/s1eO6KRozj
— Bryan Llenas (@BryanLlenas) January 9, 2020
Apparently, nobody bothered to ever look at the recording to make sure it was the right one, and it wasn’t. The switcheroo wasn’t noticed until last week. When they finally got around to converting it into playable form, they realized it didn’t show the right cell. There weren’t any guards on the video rushing in to save Epstein.
“MCC inadvertently preserved video from the wrong tier within the MCC, and, as a result, video from outside the defendant’s cell on July 22-23, 2019 (i.e. the requested video) no longer exists,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office writes.
“After reviewing the video, it appeared to the government that the footage contained on the preserved video was for the correct date and time, but captured a different tier… because the preserved video did not show corrections officers responding to any of the cells seen on the video.”
The very next thing they did was to look for a backup, and there should have been one, only there isn’t. “Curiouser and curiouser,” said Alice.
The prosecutors addressed that in their letter too. “A review of that backup system 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.”
Of course, they are blaming all this disappearing evidence on simple garden variety stupidity. The way our government officials are talking, anyone who wandered in off the street could do a better job of running federal prisons.
“The failure to preserve video is consistent with what experts, guards and attorneys have said is a host of problems at MCC, a federal facility under the Bureau of Prisons.” Attorney General William Barr denounced the “serious irregularities” at the prison and fired the acting head of the bureau.
Two guards were charged with conspiracy and filing false records. They logged visits to Epstein’s cell that they never actually made, making sure that Epstein could die in private, one way or another.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Michel Baden, who was brought into the case by Epstein’s brother, is expected to testify that autopsy photos of Epstein suggest he was strangled and did not hang himself.
A Florida judge also threw a monkey wrench into efforts that have been underway to unseal the records from Epstein’s 2006 grand jury indictment on felony prostitution. Chief Circuit Judge Krista Marx denied the release.
“It sounds like a fishing expedition to me,” she told Assistant State Attorney Marshall Levering Evans. “I’m not understanding how it will be helpful and to what end.”