Two federal correctional officers in New York City who were responsible for guarding Jeffrey Epstein on the night of his death have declined a plea deal, the Associated Press reports. The Justice Department is considering criminal charges in connection with the wealthy financier’s death at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in August. The city’s medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide. The guards are suspected of failing to check on him every half hour as required, and of fabricating log entries to show they had. Prosecutors wanted the guards to admit they falsified the prison records/
Both guards were working overtime because of staffing shortages. They are on administrative leave while the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general investigate Epstein’s death. The 66-year-old had been awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls. Epstein was on suicide watch after he was found on his cell floor July 23 with bruises on his neck. He was taken off suicide watch a week before his death, meaning he was less closely monitored but still supposed to be checked every 30 minutes. Epstein’s death suggested that the chronically understaffed Metropolitan Correctional Center may have bungled its responsibility to keep him alive. Guards often work overtime day after day, and other employees are pressed into service as correctional officers. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, who was named director of the Bureau of Prisons after Epstein’s death, disclosed in a Nov. 4 internal memo that some staff members failed to perform required rounds and inmate counts but logged that they had done so anyway. “Falsification of information in government systems and documents is also a violation of policy, and may be subject to criminal prosecution as well,” Hawk Sawyer wrote to top prison officials.