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Warden of prison where Jeffrey Epstein died gets reassigned; two guards placed on leave

Pending the results of the investigation

Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The warden of the New York City federal prison where accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein died over the weekend has been reassigned on orders from Attorney General William Barr, according to The Hill.

The warden of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan will be moved to the Bureau of Prisons Northeast Regional Office pending investigations into Epstein's death by the FBI and Department of Justice, and will be replaced on an interim basis by James Petrucci.

"Today, the Attorney General directed the Bureau of Prisons to temporarily assign the warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York to the Bureau's Northeast Regional Office pending the outcome of the FBI and OIG investigations into the apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, a former MCC inmate," DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement.

Epstein's death by apparent suicide was preceded by a series of what Barr called "irregularities" that allowed the accused child sex trafficker to be alone in his cell and unmonitored by guards for hours, just weeks after allegedly attempting to kill himself.

One of the two reassigned guards was reportedly not a full-fledged correctional officer, according to The New York Times. And although the guards were supposed to be checking on Epstein every 30 minutes, no one checked on him for hours before he allegedly hanged himself.

According to a Times report from last year, federal prisons are so short-staffed that they often use teachers, secretaries and other support staff to fill in for correctional officers on only a few weeks' training. The guards responsible for watching Epstein at the time of his death were both working overtime, with one of them having worked overtime for five straight days.

These will be among the issues investigated by Barr and the DOJ.

"I was appalled — indeed, the entire department was — and frankly, angry to learn of the MCC's failure to adequately secure this prisoner," Barr said Monday. "We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and that demand a thorough investigation."

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