Surveillance video from Jeffrey Epstein's first apparent suicide attempt 'no longer exists'

Officials at the federal jail housing Epstein preserved video from the wrong floor because of a clerical error, prosecutors said.

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By Tom Winter

The surveillance video taken from outside Jeffrey Epstein's jail cell on the day of his first apparent suicide attempt has been permanently deleted, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Epstein, the disgraced financier who was facing federal sex-trafficking charges, was found semiconscious in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, or MCC, in New York around 1:27 a.m. on July 23.

But that video is now gone because MCC officials mistakenly saved video from a different floor of the federal detention facility, prosecutors said in a court filing.

The MCC "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.

The FBI made the discovery last week while reviewing a copy of the video provided by MCC officials, prosecutors said.

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"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 filing was made in a case involving Nicholas Tartaglione, a former police officer in Westchester County, New York, who was Epstein's cellmate on the day of the incident. Tartaglione is awaiting trial on charges that he killed four men and buried them in his yard in 2016. Prosecutors allege that he was involved in a cocaine distribution conspiracy.

The July incident was investigated as a possible suicide attempt, assault or ruse by Epstein to get himself transferred to a different facility. Tartaglione's attorney, as part of an effort to exonerate his client, asked the jail to preserve video from outside the cell.

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The MCC agreed, but "the MCC computer system listed a different, incorrect cell for Tartaglione," prosecutors said in the court filing.

A backup video system was in place, but the requested video wasn't available because of unspecified "technical errors," the court filing says.

NBC News reported in August that Tartaglione was cleared of any wrongdoing in the July incident.

Epstein, 66, died by suicide inside his cell three weeks later.

MCC officials succeeded in preserving video from outside his cell that day. Prosecutors are using the video as evidence against two guards who are accused of falsifying records and not performing the proper checks on Epstein the night he died.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.

Rich Schapiro contributed.