At the direction of U.S. Attorney General William Barr, the Justice Department has begun two separate investigations into the circumstances surrounding the death of New York hedge-fund manager and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
On Thursday, Aug.15, two Republican senators, Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa), formally requested that results from Justice Department investigations be made public as soon as they are available.
“We fully support your call for a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Epstein’s death,” the senators wrote in a letter to Barr.
“True accountability, however, especially for the victims of Mr. Epstein, requires full transparency. For that reason, we ask for your commitment to make the results of the FBI and Inspector General investigations public as soon as they are completed.”
Epstein, a well-known, New York-based financier, was being held without bail at New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, on charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. He was found dead in his cell early on Saturday morning, August 10, the result of an apparent suicide.
Just a day prior to Epstein’s death, thousands of pages of documents were unsealed, some of which included the names of Epstein’s alleged associates. Epstein’s trial, to include initial oral arguments, was being scheduled to begin in mid-October.
Epstein had faced up to 45 years in federal prison had he been found guilty.
Barr announced, on Saturday, that both the FBI and the inspector general’s office would be opening separate investigations into Epstein’s death. “I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody,” Barr said. “Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered. In addition to the FBI investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein’s death.”
By Monday, Barr announced that the Justice Department was “learning of serious irregularities” in the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death at Metro Correctional Center, which may include the falsifying of records.
The correctional center’s warden has since been reassigned temporarily, and two guards who were assigned to watch over Epstein were placed on leave.
As reported by The Washington Post, an autopsy performed on Epstein’s body, this week, revealed multiple broken bones in his neck, which could have been the result of either hanging or strangulation. A final forensic analysis has not yet been made available.
Epstein, age 66, could have faced federal charges for the same alleged crimes as early as 2007, when he was apprehended in Florida. However, the U.S. attorney’s office in Florida gave Epstein a lenient plea deal that removed federal charges. The plea deal also blocked charges from being brought against alleged co-conspirators within the broader sex-trafficking ring.
In return, Epstein pleaded guilty to two state prostitution charges. He then served a 13-month jail sentence, with daily work leave, and he registered as a sex offender in the state of Florida.