Barr an­gry at jail’s fail­ure in Ep­stein death

The big­ger drama is likely to be over the wealthy sex of­fender’s mys­te­ri­ous es­tate.

Tampa Bay Times - - Front Page - BY MATT ZAPOTOSKY AND DEVLIN BARRETT

WASH­ING­TON — At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr on Mon­day de­cried what he called a “fail­ure” by fed­eral jail of­fi­cials to se­cure reg­is­tered sex of­fender and mul­ti­mil­lion­aire Jef­frey Ep­stein, who was found hang­ing in his jail cell over the week­end.

But the coun­try’s top law en­force­ment of­fi­cial said Ep­stein’s death would not de­rail the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into those who might have aided Ep­stein’s al­leged crimes.

“Let me as­sure you that this case will con­tinue on against any­one who was com­plicit with Ep­stein,” Barr said. “Any co-con­spir­a­tors should not rest easy. The vic­tims de­serve jus­tice, and they will get it.”

Speak­ing to law en­force­ment of­fi­cials in New Or­leans, Barr said he “was ap­palled ... and frankly, an­gry” to learn of the Metropoli­tan Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter’s “fail­ure to ad­e­quately se­cure” Ep­stein, who was await­ing trial on new sex traf­fick­ing charges.

“We are now learn­ing of se­ri­ous irregulari­ties at this fa­cil­ity that are deeply con­cern­ing and de­mand a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” he said.

The at­tor­ney gen­eral’s com­ments were note­wor­thy in that he pub­licly blamed the Bureau of Pris­ons, which is part of the Jus­tice De­part­ment, for the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing Ep­stein’s ap­par­ent sui­cide.

Barr did not spec­ify what

irregulari­ties had been found in the af­ter­math of Ep­stein’s death, but vowed to “get to the bot­tom of what hap­pened.”

Ep­stein, whose case has raised ques­tions about whether he re­ceived pref­er­en­tial treat­ment in the past from Jus­tice De­part­ment of­fi­cials, was found hang­ing in his jail cell Satur­day morn­ing, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

His death has prompted in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the FBI, Jus­tice De­part­ment in­spec­tor gen­eral, and the New York City med­i­cal ex­am­iner, and raised a num­ber of ques­tions about con­di­tions in­side the fed­eral jail in Man­hat­tan where the 66-year-old mil­lion­aire died.

Correction­s of­fi­cers had not checked on Ep­stein for “sev­eral” hours be­fore he was found around 6:30 a.m., a per­son fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said, just one in a se­ries of mis­steps in the hours lead­ing up to his death.

Of­fi­cers should have been check­ing on Ep­stein, who was be­ing held in a spe­cial hous­ing unit of the Metropoli­tan Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter in New York City, ev­ery 30 min­utes, and, un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances, he also should have had a cell­mate, ac­cord­ing to the per­son fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter and union of­fi­cials rep­re­sent­ing fa­cil­ity em­ploy­ees.

Chief Med­i­cal Ex­am­iner Bar­bara Samp­son said late Sun­day that Ep­stein’s au­topsy was com­plete, but she had not reached a de­ter­mi­na­tion on cause of death “pend­ing fur­ther in­for­ma­tion.” The med­i­cal ex­am­iner also al­lowed Michael Baden, a pri­vate pathol­o­gist, to ob­serve the au­topsy at the re­quest of Ep­stein’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Samp­son said.

Claims likely against Ep­stein’s es­tate

With op­u­lent homes, a Caribbean is­land and a pri­vate jet to Ep­stein’s name, the bat­tle to claim his assets is on.

At­ten­tion will shift this week to iden­ti­fy­ing what’s in his es­tate, who can claim his assets and which ju­ris­dic­tion takes up the case. Lawyers seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion for vic­tims of his al­leged sex crimes are call­ing for a freeze on the es­tate, rais­ing the prospect of a le­gal process that could drag out for years.

It’s un­clear whether Ep­stein, who wasn’t mar­ried and has no known chil­dren, left a will. What is known is that his wealth in­cluded a $77 mil­lion, 40-room man­sion on New York’s Up­per East Side, the is­land of Little St. James in the U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands, a ranch in New Mex­ico and homes in Paris and Palm Beach. His busi­ness was reg­is­tered in the Vir­gin Is­lands.

“It’s go­ing to be in­cred­i­bly com­pli­cated,” said David Ring, an at­tor­ney in Los An­ge­les who has rep­re­sented vic­tims of sex­ual abuse and as­sault. “It’s go­ing to be a lot of different folks who are go­ing to be bat­tling over this es­tate and th­ese assets and I hope the vic­tims come out on top. I think they de­serve it. But I don’t think the es­tate is just go­ing to hand it over to them.”

Ep­stein’s known rel­a­tives in­clude his brother, Mark, and a niece and nephew, who live in New York.

Mark Ep­stein and a friend had of­fered to guar­an­tee a bond as part of his brother’s bail re­quest, which was de­nied.

While the crim­i­nal case against Ep­stein closed with his death, his ac­cusers have brought numer­ous civil law­suits. In­ves­ti­ga­tors gath­ered more ev­i­dence when they searched Ep­stein’s New York town­house af­ter his ar­rest, in­clud­ing pho­to­graphs of what ap­peared to be naked un­der­age girls.

At­tor­ney Lisa Bloom, who rep­re­sents three fe­male plain­tiffs, called on his es­tate’s ad­min­is­tra­tors to freeze all of his assets.

“Our civil cases can still pro­ceed against his es­tate,” Bloom said on Twit­ter. “Vic­tims de­serve to be made whole for the life­long dam­age he caused. We’re just get­ting started.”

Based on lim­ited fi­nan­cial records, U.S. prose- cu­tors esti- mated Ep­stein made $10 mil­lion a year and had a net worth of at least $500 mil­lion. But de­tails of his assets re­mained “largely con­cealed” from the New York court, ac­cord­ing to pros­e­cu­tors.

Where es­tate pro­ceed­ings might play out de­pends partly on which of Ep­stein’s homes is con­sid­ered his main one.

Doc­u­ments sub­mit­ted by his lawyers in a bail re­quest af­ter his ar­rest in July in­di­cated his pri­mary res­i­dence was his com­pound on the is­land of Little St. James in the U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands. But New York or Florida also ap­pear to be good pos­si­bil­i­ties.

U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr

Jef­frey Ep­stein

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