NEW YORK (CBSMiami/AP) — The warden of the  New York prison that had housed Jeffrey Epstein is being temporarily reassigned and two guards are being placed on leave as the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general investigate the circumstances of the financier’s death.

The announcement came amid mounting evidence that the chronically understaffed Metropolitan Correctional Center may have bungled its responsibility to keep the 66-year-old Epstein from harming himself while he awaited trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls.

Epstein was taken off a suicide watch last month for reasons that have not been explained, and was supposed to have been checked on by a guard every 30 minutes. But investigators learned those checks weren’t done for several hours before he was found Saturday morning, according to a person familiar with the case.

That person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

A second person familiar with operations at the jail said Epstein was discovered in his cell with a bed sheet around his neck. That person likewise spoke on condition of anonymity for the same reason.

On Monday, Attorney General William Barr said that he was “frankly angry to learn of the MCC’s failure to adequately secure this prisoner.” He added: “We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability.”

The Justice Department said the warden of another facility in upstate New York has been named the acting warden at MCC. The FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general are investigating Epstein’s death.

One of Epstein’s guards the night he took his own life was not a regular correctional officer, one of those familiar with the case said.

Serene Gregg, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3148, told The Washington Post that one of the guards was a fill-in who had been pressed into service because of staffing shortages.

Epstein was being held without bail, awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges that could have brought 45 years in prison.

Jeffrey Epstein’s body is moved from the NY Medical Examiner’s office.
(Photo Credit: William Farrington/Polaris)

The manner in which he killed himself has not been officially announced. An autopsy was performed Sunday, but the city’s chief medical examiner said investigators were awaiting further information.

Federal prosecutors in New York are pursuing a parallel investigation into whether any associates of Epstein will face charges for assisting him in what authorities say was his rampant sexual abuse of teenage girls.

Barr warned that any co-conspirator in the sex-crimes case against Epstein “should not rest easy,” adding: “The victims deserve justice, and they will get it.”

Authorities are most likely turning their attention to the team of recruiters and employees who, according to police reports, FBI records and court documents, knew about Epstein’s penchant for teenage girls and lined up victims for him.

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