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Epstein Death Raises Suicide Watch Questions

Financier Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in New York City, the Associated Press reports. Epstein, 66, was found in his cell at the Manhattan Correctional Center Saturday morning. Epstein’s arrest last month launched investigations into how authorities handled his case initially when similar charges were brought against him in Florida more than a decade ago. U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned last month after coming under fire for overseeing that deal when he was U.S. Attorney in Miami. A little over two weeks ago, Epstein was found on the floor of his jail cell with bruises on his neck. At the time, it was not clear whether the injuries were self-inflicted or from an assault. Cameron Lindsay, a former federal warden, said the death represents “an unfortunate and shocking failure, if proven to be a suicide.” He said, “Unequivocally, he should have been on active suicide watch and therefore under direct and constant supervision. When you have an inmate as high profile as Epstein, it’s absolutely imperative the warden set the tone with his or her leadership to ensure these kinds of incidents don’t happen.”

Epstein’s arrest drew national attention, focusing on a deal that allowed him to plead guilty in 2008 to soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida and avoid more serious federal charges. Federal prosecutors in New York reopened the probe after reporting by the Miami Herald stirred outrage over that plea bargain. His lawyers maintained that the new charges brought by federal prosecutors in New York were covered by the deal and were improper. They said he hasn’t had any illicit contact with underage girls since serving his 13-month sentence in Florida. It was never clear how the middle-class Brooklyn math whiz became a Wall Street master of high finance.