The jail “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 no longer exists,” the court papers say. A backup system that should have retained the deleted footage suspiciously stopped functioning in August, and the video no longer exists there either due to “technical errors,” prosecutors claimed. It is the latest in a long series of “mistakes” and anomalies surrounding the convicted sex offender’s death.
The FBI made the discovery last week while reviewing a copy of the video provided by MCC officials, prosecutors said.
“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 than the one where [the cell housing Epstein and his cellmate] was located because the preserved video did not show corrections officers responding to any of the cells seen on the video.”
The video had a complicated, and suspicious journey before its final meeting with oblivion. Prosecutors claimed to have “found” the video on December 19, a day after a prosecutor said it had gone missing during a hearing. When it was found, it was said to have been properly preserved by MCC staff. The footage had been requested by attorneys for Epstein’s former cellmate, a burly ex-cop named Nicholas Tartaglione, accused of killing four people in a drug deal gone bad and burying them in his backyard.
They asked to see the tape in the hope of obtaining a more lenient sentence for Tartaglione, after he claimed he had helped save Epstein’s life – only to be stonewalled for nearly five months.
Crucially, it appears the footage was still in limbo when Epstein was found dead on the morning of August 10. His death was ruled a suicide, though a celebrity pathologist hired by his family claimed his body showed evidence of homicidal strangulation and witnesses heard “shrieking and yelling” coming from his cell that morning.
Epstein’s death was the first ‘suicide’ inside the MCC in decades – remains shrouded in mystery. Two guards have been charged with negligence for failing to check on their infamous prisoner for hours, and surveillance video from that day was deemed “unusable.” Revelations that Epstein had compromising material on many of his powerful friends gave rise to numerous alternate theories about his death.