'Missing' jail video from first Jeffrey Epstein suicide attempt has been found, prosecutors tell judge

Key Points
  • Federal prosecutors have located surveillance video showing the area around the cell of accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein on the day of his first suicide attempt in the Metropolitan Correctional Center jail in Manhattan.
  • The video, which prosecutors previously said was missing, was being sought by lawyers for Nicholas Tartaglione, a former police officer accused of four murders, who claims he save Epstein's life in July.
  • Epstein, a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, died from what has been ruled suicide by hanging in August.
Jeffrey Epstein attends Launch of RADAR MAGAZINE at Hotel QT on May 18, 2005.
Patrick McMullan | Getty Images

Federal prosecutors have found surveillance video of the area around the cell of accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein on the day of his first jailhouse suicide attempt, according to a new court filing. Earlier this week, they said the footage was missing.

The video, which prosecutors said was actually preserved by jail staff as previously requested, was being sought by lawyers for Epstein's former cellmate at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

That cellmate, former Westchester County, New York, police officer Nicholas Tartaglione, claims he helped save the life of the wealthy investor Epstein during his suicide bid at the federal jail on July 23.

Epstein, 66, died weeks later in from what authorities have ruled was a suicide by hanging in that jail, where the former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton was awaiting trial on charges related to his alleged sexual abuse of dozens of underage girls from 2002 through 2005.

His death, which remains under investigation, sparked conspiracy theories that he actually was murdered because of his ties to wealthy and powerful people, some of whom have been accused of having sex with Epstein's victims. Neither Trump nor Clinton have been accused of having sex with women connected to Epstein.

Prosecutors have charged two guards with trying to cover up their alleged failure to conduct mandated safety checks on Epstein and other inmates in the hours before he was found unresponsive in the cell.

Video surveillance from the hours before Epstein was found lifeless on Aug. 10 shows that no one entered his cell after he entered it the night before.

At the time of his death, Epstein did not have a cellmate.

But Tartaglione was in the cell on July 23, when Epstein is believed to have first tried to kill himself, and when jail staff found him semiconscious on the floor of the cell, with marks on his neck.

Tartaglione is being held in the jail without bail on charges related to the drug-connected murders of four people.

NBC archive footage shows Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein in 1992

Two days after Epstein's suicide attempt, Tartaglione's lawyers requested the surveillance footage at the jail from July 22 through July 23 for possible use in the sentencing phase of his case.

If the tape shows Tartaglione helping save Epstein, as he claims he did, it could bolster arguments that the ex-cop deserves to be spared the death penalty.

On Wednesday, during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, a prosecutor said that the video could not be found.

Judge Kenneth Karas told prosecutors to continue searching for the footage.

In a court filing Thursday, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York told Karas that prosecutors "confirmed with MCC [jail] staff that the Video was preserved by MCC staff upon defense counsel's request in July 2019."

"The Government is in the process of obtaining a copy of the Video from the MCC. Once the Government obtains a copy of the Video, the Government intends to make it available for defense counsel's review at the United States Attorney's Office," the prosecutors' office wrote.

Tartaglione's lawyer, Bruce Barket, told CNBC in an email, "We are very pleased the video was preserved, as we had asked."

"We look forward to viewing it," Barket said.

Correction: Jeffrey Epstein was found lifeless on Aug. 10. An earlier version misstated the date.