Federal prosecutors offered a plea deal to two correctional officers responsible for guarding Jeffrey Epstein on the night of his death, but the officers have declined the offer, people familiar with the matter tell the AP. The existence of the plea offer signals the Justice Department is considering criminal charges in connection with the wealthy financier’s death at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York in August. The city's medical examiner ruled Epstein's death a suicide. The guards on Epstein's unit are suspected of failing to check on him every half hour, as required, and of fabricating log entries to show they had. As part of the proposed plea deal, prosecutors wanted the guards to admit they falsified the prison records, according to the people familiar with the matter.
They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to publicly discuss the investigation. The US attorney's office in Manhattan had no comment on the plea offer. Both guards were working overtime because of staffing shortages. They have been placed on administrative leave while the FBI and the Justice Department's inspector general investigate the circumstances surrounding Epstein's death. The 66-year-old had been awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls. Epstein was placed on suicide watch after he was found on his cell floor July 23 with bruises on his neck. Sources at the jail say Epstein was then taken off suicide watch about a week before his death, meaning he was less closely monitored. (An Epstein accuser says there's another guilty party in all this.)