The FBI is investigating whether there was anything criminal about the death of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons said on Tuesday.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer said a coroner found that Epstein committed suicide in his prison cell and added that she has seen no evidence that it was anything other than a suicide.
“The FBI is involved and they are looking at criminal enterprise,” Hawk Sawyer said. “The death and the whole situation is still under the investigation of the FBI and the inspector general’s office, and I’m really not at liberty to discuss specifics of this case.”
The FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general opened investigations after Epstein, a prominent financier who was facing additional charges of sex trafficking, was found dead in his cell on Aug. 10. He had earlier been placed on a suicide watch but was subsequently removed, and was supposed to be closely monitored by jail guards.
Speaking at Tuesday’s hearing, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said “with a case this high profile, there’s got to be either major malfunction of the system or a criminal enterprise at foot to allow this to happen.”
Separately, federal prosecutors unsealed charges against two guards at the U.S. jail in lower Manhattan who were supposed to keep watch over Epstein. The guards are charged in New York with falsifying documents and conspiracy to defraud the U.S.
Epstein had been arrested in July as he was returning to the U.S. from Paris and faced life in prison if convicted. He denied wrongdoing.
Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, pressed for answers about Epstein’s death during Tuesday’s hearing, saying he should have been treated with the highest priority.
It’s about the fact that Epstein “wasn’t able to testify against his other co-conspirators,” Sasse said. “There’s a lot here where DoJ has failed. There’s a lot here where BoP has failed.”
Hawk Sawyer shot back. “Senator, I can’t tell you what I don’t know,” she said. “I have received no information from the FBI investigation yet nor information from the inspector general.”
— With assistance by Bob Van Voris, and Christian Berthelsen