The multimillionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein died of an apparent suicide by hanging in his New York City jail cell on Saturday morning, the US. Justice Department has confirmed.
Epstein was held without bail at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan on federal sex trafficking charges following arrest on July 6.
Meanwhile, the FBI has launched an investigation into the circumstances of Epstein’s death. As previously reported, he was on suicide watch last month after guards found him in his cell on July 24 in a semi-conscious state and with superficial injuries on his neck. He was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, according to NBC News.
Correctional officers reportedly found Epstein, 66, unresponsive in his jail cell at about 6:30 a.m. ET.
Officials rushed him to a nearby hospital in Lower Manhattan where he was pronounced dead after suffering cardiac arrest.
Epstein was awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking of underage girls. He died a day after a lawsuit by a victim was unsealed that contained disturbing allegations of sexual abuse of underage girls. The documents also contained bombshell allegations against Epstein.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges of sex trafficking of underage girls and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking but would have faced up to 45 years in prison on conviction.
Epstein was held without bail after the judge agreed with prosecutors that he was a flight risk. Inmates at the facility reportedly extorted him when initially held within the general prison population. He also allegedly lived under insanitary conditions in his cell, according to a report by The Daily Beast.
Human rights groups raised concerns in the past about conditions at the MCC facility. It is also where Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman stayed before his sentencing.
The multi-millionaire financier was arrested last month following a previous conviction in 2008 on state prostitution charges in Florida. He received 13 months in prison under a controversial plea deal that allowed him to avoid federal charges. He stayed in a private wing at a prison facility in Palm Beach.
He was arrested on July 6 after his case came under renewed scrutiny in the wake of a series of articles by The Miami Herald that raised questions about the plea deal.