Attorney General William Barr said the Department of Justice has learned of "serious irregularities" at the federal jail where disgraced financier and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein died, and said an investigation has been launched into the facility.
Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center's special housing unit in Manhattan at approximately 6:30 a.m. ET on Saturday "from an apparent suicide," according to a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
"We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation," Barr said in an address to the Fraternal Order of Police in New Orleans on Monday.
"I was appalled — and indeed the whole department was — and frankly angry to learn of the MCC's failure to adequately secure this prisoner," Barr said.
The attorney general said that the FBI and the Office of the Inspector General have begun an investigation.
"We will get to the bottom of what happened, and there will be accountability," Barr said.
Epstein, 66, was charged with running a sex trafficking operation in which he allegedly sexually abused dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, in his New York and Florida homes between 2002 and 2005.
He was arrested July 6 and charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors — charges that carry a maximum sentence of 45 years.
Epstein was denied bail after a federal judge ruled that there was a “preponderance” of evidence that he was a flight risk.
On July 23, five days after his bail hearing, the New York financier — who has kept company with President Donald Trump, Prince Andrew, and former president Bill Clinton — was found unconscious in his cell following a suspected suicide attempt.
Epstein was reportedly placed on suicide watch following this incident, but law enforcement officials with knowledge of his detention told the New York Times that he had been removed from the list for two weeks at the time of his death. He was also reportedly being housed alone, in a violation of procedure, even though prisoners with suspected suicidal ideations are supposed to have cellmates.
An autopsy on Epstein's body was performed Sunday, NYC Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said in a statement, but his official cause of death has not yet been confirmed, “pending further information.”
On Monday, the AP reported that the facility where Epstein was being held was experiencing severe staff shortages, and there were only two employees on duty the morning of his death — one guard working a fifth straight day of overtime and another working mandatory overtime.
Barr said Monday that the department's sex trafficking case would continue "against anyone with regard to Epstein."
"This sex trafficking case was very important to the Department of Justice and to me personally," he said. "It was important to the dedicated prosecutors in the southern district of New York and to our FBI agents who investigated the case and were preparing it for trial. Most importantly, this case was important to the victims who had the courage to come forward and deserve the opportunity to confront the accused.
"Any coconspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice, and they will get it."