The legal accounting for the suspicious death of Jeffrey Epstein has begun: On Tuesday, two Bureau of Prisons workers guarding the financier on the night of his death appeared before the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on charges that will reportedly include conspiracy and falsifying records. The pair, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, are facing the first charges from the criminal investigation into Epstein’s death for their failure to visually check his cell every half hour, and then lying about it on Metropolitan Correctional Center paperwork.
Though the initial arrests were limited in scope, in testimony before the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, BOP Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer said that the search for accountability could be extensive, claiming that the FBI is investigating if a “criminal enterprise” could have been involved in Epstein’s death. Sawyer was responding to a question from Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, who asked: “With a case this high profile, there has got to be either a major malfunction of the system or criminal enterprise afoot to allow this to happen. So are you looking at both? Is the FBI looking at both?”
“If the FBI is involved, then they are looking at criminal enterprise,” Hawk Sawyer answered. She added that she was not “at liberty to discuss specifics” because the case is ongoing.
Though Hawk Sawyer’s revelation — that the FBI is investigating if actors outside the BOP had a hand in the financier’s death — is the exact stuff of a popular conspiracy meme, she did not engage with the idea that Epstein did not kill himself. When Graham asked her if she “concur[red] with the opinion that it was a suicide,” Hawk Sawyer said that she did not have any evidence to counter “the finding of the coroner.” That didn’t stop Louisiana Republican and Judiciary member John Kennedy from addressing the theory with a seasonal quip: “Christmas ornaments, drywall, and Jeffrey Epstein — name three things that don’t hang themselves. That’s what the American people think.”