Surveillance video of Jeffrey Epstein’s cell during suicide attempt was destroyed, prosecutors say

The feds say that due to a record-keeping error, MCC staff preserved footage from outside the wrong cell


By Stephen Rex Brown
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — Surveillance footage from outside Jeffrey Epstein’s cell during his suicide attempt was destroyed, prosecutors revealed Thursday.

The revelation in a letter filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maurene Comey and Jason Swergold is the latest disclosure from the feds about the footage from the Metropolitan Correctional Center on July 22 and 23. Epstein attempted to hang himself that night while sharing a cell with accused quadruple murderer Nick Tartaglione, officials have said.

This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey Epstein. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)
This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey Epstein. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)

Swergold initially said last month in White Plains Federal Court that the video had not been preserved. He reversed himself less than 24 hours later, saying it had been archived.

Now, the feds say that due to a record-keeping error, MCC staff preserved footage from outside the wrong cell.

“The footage contained on the preserved video was for the correct date and time, but captured a different tier than the one where Cell-1 was located because the preserved video did not show corrections officers responding to any of the cells seen on the video. After speaking with MCC legal counsel, the Government was informed that the MCC computer system listed a different, incorrect cell for Tartaglione,” prosecutors wrote in a letter filed in federal court in Manhattan.

There was a backup system for the video footage, but that wasn’t working either.

“The requested video no longer exists on the backup system and has not since at least August 2019 as a result of technical errors,” the prosecutors wrote.

Bruce Barket, Tartaglione’s attorney, had asked MCC to preserve the video days after the incident. He has said Tartaglione acted “admirably,” possibly saving Epstein’s life. Correctional officers found Epstein dead in a different cell at the troubled jail on Aug. 10. He’d hanged himself in the cell, which he occupied alone.

“It is stunning that a video which we asked to be preserved and which the jail should have saved without a request was destroyed. More troubling are the various and inconsistent accounts of what happened to the video. We believe that the video would have strongly corroborated our client’s assertion that he acted appropriately that evening and are deeply disturbed it has disappeared,” Barket wrote in a text.

Tartaglione, a former Briarcliff Manor cop, is facing the death penalty for the murders prosecutors allege were linked to a drug deal gone bad with a Mexican cartel. The footage could potentially be useful to Barket if he must argue to a jury Tartaglione does not deserve the death penalty.

©2020 New York Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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