The FBI is investigating whether a “criminal enterprise” played a role in the death of convicted sex offender and billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, the director of the federal prison system told a Senate committee Tuesday.
Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer made the admission while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, reports The Hill.
“With a case this high profile, there has got to be either a major malfunction of the system or criminal enterprise at foot to allow this to happen," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., while questioning Sawyer. "So are you looking at both? Is the FBI looking at both?”
Sawyer replied, “The FBI is involved and they are looking at criminal enterprise, yes.”
Epstein was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell on Aug. 10 while he was awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking underage girls. The official cause of death was ruled a suicide by hanging, but some have suggested that a hit may have been carried out on the well-connected billionaire as a means to silence him.
Later in the hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asked if there was “any indication that Jeffrey Epstein’s death was a homicide.”
“Based upon the evidence that I am aware, no," Sawyer answered. “But as I’ve already told the committee, it is still being investigated by the FBI and the Inspector General’s Office.”
Last month, famed pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, who observed Epstein’s autopsy, said that his body showed signs of homicide despite an official ruling that he killed himself.
“I think that the evidence points toward homicide rather than suicide,” Baden told Fox News reporters. He indicated three fractures that he said are “very unusual” for suicide, and more indicative of homicidal strangulation. “Hanging does not cause these broken bones, and homicide does,” he said.
Also on Tuesday, two prison guards who were supposed to be monitoring Epstein at the time he killed himself were placed under arrest. Tova Noel and Michael Thomas are accused of sleeping on the job and then falsifying documents to say they checked on Epstein every half hour.