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Jeffrey Epstein dies by suicide while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges: reports

U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services’ sex offender registry March 28, 2017 and obtained by Reuters July 10, 2019.

Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide in his Manhattan jail cell overnight, reports indicate.

Epstein, was facing federal sex trafficking charges, and has been on suicide watch for the past two weeks after being found nearly unconscious in his New York City jail cell near the end of July with injuries to his neck.

According to reporting from NBC News and the New York Times, the disgraced financier was found at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning, having hanged himself in his cell. Officials said staff tried to revive him and Epstein was transported to a local hospital for treatment. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

A former warden told the Associated Press that Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide in jail represents a “shocking failure of the system.”

Cameron Lindsay, who ran three federal lockups, says Epstein should have been under constant supervision.

Epstein, who has pleaded not-guilty, was arrested on July 6 for alleged sex trafficking of minor girls through his Upper East Side mansion in Palm Beach Florida. Some of the charges are almost 2 decades old. He faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

The charges were announced more than a decade after Epstein pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges in Florida. He was being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan while he appealed a district judge’s refusal to let him live under 24-hour guard in his home on the Upper East Side.

The multi-millionaire was being held without bail as he awaited his trial.

Epstein’s death is likely to raise questions about how the Bureau of Prisons ensures the welfare of high-profile inmates. In October, Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger was killed in a federal prison in West Virginia where had just been transferred.

Federal authorities have said that the FBI is investigating the “apparent suicide” to determine whether proper procedures were followed to ensure the safety of the prisoners overnight.

Criticism of the plea deal Epstein reached with the U.S. attorney’s office in 2007, then led by Alexander Acosta, threw his alleged actions back into the spotlight. The non-prosecution agreement allowed the hedge fund manager to avoid federal charges despite many claims that he’d engaged in a broad pattern of sexual misconduct.

He served just 13 months in jail of an 18-month sentence in Florida.

Federal prosecutors in New York reopened the probe after investigative reporting by The Miami Herald stirred outrage over that plea bargain.

His lawyers maintained that the new charges brought by federal prosecutors in New York were improper, claiming that he hadn’t had any illicit contact with underage girls since serving his 13-month sentence in Florida.

This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.

— With a file from the Associated Press and Reuters.