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In Wake of Epstein Death, A Look Back at MCC’s Recent Security Failures


Legal and law enforcement experts expressed shock and disbelief in the wake of Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide Saturday morning, with several accusing the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Epstein was being held, of gross mismanagement for allowing him the opportunity to hang himself. Known as the “Guantanamo of Manhattan,” MCC has a history of security lapses. Here’s a look back at some of federal prison’s other recent security failure, as pointed out by Adam Klasfeld of Courthouse News.

  1. Reza Zarrab: Zarrab, a wealthy Turkish gold trader, was arrested in 2016 on charges that he oversaw one of the largest money laundering schemes in recent U.S. history before entering into a plea agreement and becoming a government witness. While being held at MCC, Zarab he was attacked in prison by a knife-wielding inmate who claimed he was told to kill him for cooperating with U.S. authorities.
  2. Victor Casado: Casado was federal prison guard at MCC who was sentenced to 3 years in prison in January after pleading guilty to taking over $25,000 in bribes to smuggle contraband to the aforementioned Reza Zarrab while he was in detention. U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan described Casado’s crime as “an assault on an institution — not just the Bureau of Prisons, but our entire system of justice.”
  3. Joshua Schulte: Schulte, who was accused of being the mastermind behind the WikiLeaks “Vault 7” and “Vault 8” tranches, was found to have had multiple cellphones, which included at least one heavily encrypted device, recovered from inside his MCC prison cell in October of 2018. According to Klasfeld, the FBI said it also found approximately 13 email and social media accounts and other electronic devices that he used to ‘communicate clandestinely with third parties outside of the MCC.’”
  4. Jeffrey Epstein: The convicted millionaire pedophile was arrested on federal charges of sex trafficking. Epstein was set to undergo one of the most high-profile trials in recent history before he was found dead in his cell of an apparent suicide Saturday morning. While federal authorities and NYC Medical Examiner have not officially concluded Epstein’s cause of death, many have been left dumbfounded as to how guards and administrative officials could have allowed Epstein the means to hang himself. Additionally, after many experts claimed that there would almost certainly be footage of Epstein’s death, recent reports have contradicted those predictions.

[Image via Dee Delgado/Getty Images.]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.