Federal investigators obtained the grand jury subpoenaes while trying to understand what exactly happened leading up to Epstein’s suicide in what CNN reports to be "a new and significant phase in what appears to be a criminal investigation into the workers responsible for Epstein’s detention."
Epstein was found hanged in his cell in the early morning hours nearly two weeks ago. The multimillionaire financier was awaiting trial on charges that he’d run a sex trafficking ring involving underage girls.
The suicide of one of highest-profile federal inmates was said to have deeply angered top officials at the Justice Department, and investigators with the FBI and the Justice Department’s Inspector General’s Office have been probing the circumstances that led up to it. -CNN
On Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr said that several witnesses "were not cooperative," and had "required having union representatives and lawyers before we could schedule interviews." Barr has ordered the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general to probe Epstein’s August 10 suicide. Also under review is a prior attempt from July 23 in which Epstein reportedly told his lawyers that then-cellmate Nicholas Tartaglione "roughed him up."
Tartaglione has denied hurting Epstein, and recently asked a judge to transfer him out of MCC and into another prison after reportedly receiving death threats from guards - including that there would be a "price to pay" if he talks about Epstein’s death.
Investigators are reportedly focusing on two guards tasked with watching Epstein, who have both been placed on leave in the wake of Epstein’s death. The official story is that they fell asleep on the job. There are also reports that the guards falsified records to show they had checked on Epstein every 30 minutes as required - which, if true could expose them to criminal charges.
In the days since Epstein’s death, reports of mistakes and mismanagement behind the walls of the hulking Manhattan facility have emerged.
Barr has cited "serious irregularities" and a "failure to adequately secure" Epstein by the jail, and has in recent days overhauled the leadership there and at the Bureau of Prisons in Washington. -CNN
Prosecutors hope to learn from the lieutenants in charge of Epstein’s cell block what exactly happened the night he died; whether guards properly conducted their rounds to check on prisoners, and how work was handed off between shifts.
"The fact that this is a grand jury investigation means that they are investigating a specific crime. It tells me that it’s something more than just 'Let's pick up the pieces and do a report’ like an inspector general would normally do," said former federal prosecutor Elie Honig.
The 66-year-old Epstein, who had not been checked for hours before his death, was found unresponsive in his cell after being taken off suicide watch days earlier. He reportedly tied a bedsheet to the top of a bunk bed and swan dove with enough force to break a bone in his neck.
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