2 jail guards arrested over Jeffrey Epstein death

NEW YORK, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Two correctional officers responsible for guarding financier Jeffrey Epstein on the night he killed himself in a New York jail cell were taken into custody on federal charges relating to their alleged failure to check on him, according to a report in The New York Times on Tuesday, citing a person with knowledge of the matter.

The officers were expected to be charged later on Tuesday morning, the newspaper said.

Epstein, 66, a well-connected money manager, was found unresponsive in his cell in August at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC).

His suicide came a little over a month after he was arrested and charged with trafficking dozens of underage girls as young as 14 from at least 2002 to 2005. He had pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors have said Epstein and his associates systematically recruited young girls for him to sexually abuse in his mansions in Manhattan and in Palm Beach, Florida.

An autopsy concluded that Epstein had hanged himself. Both Epstein's brother and the lawyers who represented him in his criminal case have expressed doubts about the medical examiner's conclusion.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which runs the MCC, the last inmate suicide at the facility was in 2006.

Law enforcement sources told Reuters after Epstein's death that guards had failed to check on Epstein every 30 minutes as required by protocol, and that two cameras outside the jail cell had malfunctioned. Epstein had been taken off suicide watch shortly before his death.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice's Office of Inspector General launched probes into the circumstances of Epstein's death.

Epstein's estate, which according to his will is worth $577 million, is now the target of civil lawsuits by more than a dozen of his alleged victims. Its executors have proposed creating a victim compensation fund to resolve the claims.

Epstein's high-profile friends once included now-U.S. President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Britain's Prince Andrew.

One of Epstein's alleged victims has said in a lawsuit that she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew. The prince has denied the claim.

In a court filing on July 25, the government said it was pursuing an “ongoing investigation of uncharged individuals” in connection with the case.

(Reporting by New York Newsroom Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bernadette Baum)