Jeffrey Epstein

FILE - This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry, shows Jeffrey Epstein. Federal prosecutors said Thursday Jan. 9, 2020, that jailhouse video no longer exists of the area around Jeffrey Epstein's jail cell on a day he survived an apparent suicide attempt. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)

NEW YORK • Video footage of the area around Jeffrey Epstein’s jail cell on a day he survived an apparent suicide attempt “no longer exists,” federal prosecutors told a judge Thursday.

Officials at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York believed they had preserved footage of guards finding Jeffrey Epstein after he appeared to have attempted suicide, but actually saved a video from a different part of the jail, prosecutors said.

The FBI also has determined that the footage does not exist on the jail’s backup video system “as a result of technical errors,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maurene Comey and Jason Swergold wrote in a court filing.

The revelation came despite assurances prosecutors made that jail officials were preserving the footage at the request of a defense attorney for Nicholas Tartaglione, a former police officer who shared a cell with Epstein in July when the wealthy financier was after discovered with bruises on his neck and then placed on suicide watch.

Epstein later hanged himself in jail Aug. 10 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges, officials said.

Tartaglione’s defense attorney, Bruce Barket, said he intends to ask U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas to hold a hearing with “live testimony” to determine what happened to the missing video.

“The various and inconsistent accounts of what happened to that video are deeply troubling,” Barket said in an email.

Tartaglione is charged in what prosecutors have described as the “gangland-style” killings of four men who disappeared during a cocaine-related dispute. Barket said the jailhouse video would have supported his position that Tartaglione “acted appropriately” on the day in question, alluding to questions about whether Epstein had been attacked. A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons declined to comment.

One of Epstein’s attorneys, Marc Fernich, said the missing video “only adds to the unanswered questions and deepens the air of mystery surrounding (Epstein’s) death, feeding the perception that the public will never really know what happened — and that the powers that be aren’t really interested in finding out.”

“Nothing about Jeffrey Epstein’s prosecution and death in federal custody surprises or could surprise me at this point,” Fernich added.

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