In A Convenient Death, investigative reporters Alana Goodman and Daniel Halper search for the truth of what really happened to Jeffrey Epstein. With access to Epstein's victims and lawyers, to doctors, Wall Street insiders and law enforcement officers, they reveal the dirty secrets and sinister ties that may have driven someone in Epstein’s circle to take matters into their own hands.
On the morning of August 10, 2019, Epstein, friend and financier to the rich and powerful, was found unresponsive in his prison cell in lower Manhattan, where he awaited his second trial for sexual predation and other crimes. He was rushed to a local hospital and one hour later pronounced dead by suicide. Across the world, a sinister web of powerful billionaires, celebrities, and politicians, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, had reason to sigh with relief at news of Epstein’s death. Having flown on his private planes and visited his many homes—the sites of so many illicit activities—they had much to lose if their transgressions were ever exposed. And now, Epstein was silenced for good.
But cracks in the official story soon emerged. And the questions kept coming:
· Why did the surveillance cameras in front of Epstein’s cell stop working that night?
· Why was Epstein's cellmate transferred out and never replaced?
· Why was a high-profile prisoner so suddenly taken off suicide watch and left unguarded for eight hours?
Was Epstein murdered to protect the powerful people who feared what he might reveal? The American public deserves to know the truth. With this book, they can finally understand the facts and decide for themselves.
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|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
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About the Author
Daniel Halper is the bestselling author of Clinton, Inc. Previously, he was Washington bureau chief for the New York Post and online editor for the Weekly Standard. Halper has appeared on the Fox News Channel, Fox Business, MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, and numerous radio shows.
Read an Excerpt
To the day he died, he never thought he did anything wrong.
Ten days before Jeffrey Epstein's death, the reception area on the third floor of the Metropolitan Correctional Center was buzzing with activity. Lawyers carrying legal pads shuffled in and out of the second conference room from the left, aggravating the desk guard who had to walk over every time and unlock the door.
The conference room was barely bigger than a prison cell, with just enough space for a cheap wooden table and five chairs. The only window overlooked the reception area, where the guard kept watch from his desk. There were no laptops or cell phones allowed. Occasionally, one of the attorneys would step out and relay a message to a couple of young female lawyers camped in the waiting area. The women, a pair of attractive recent law school grads, were couriers for Jeffrey Epstein. They, for an hourly fee, also kept him company between his meetings.
Inside the room, holding court, was Epstein. The sixty-six-year-old multimillionaire, silver-haired and well-built from daily exercise, had been in jail for nearly a month on charges of sex trafficking underage girls. Most of his days were spent in this conference room, a designated area for legal meetings. He looked good-healthy, even-in his prison-issued orange jumpsuit and matching socks. On this particular day, August 1, 2019, he seemed upbeat and focused as his lawyers circulated in and out. Today was an important day for him, a day he hoped to take his first big step toward legal victory and freedom and away from a place where he was miserable.
Epstein, a germaphobe and lifelong teetotaler, hated the indignities of MCC-the roaches, the rodents, the drug addicts. His current cellmate was a "junkie" who "smoked crack in the cell," he complained to friends. He was also fearful of other prisoners due to his great wealth, upwards of $500 million, including real estate. His finances were splashed all over the news-"$56 Million Upper East Side Mansion"-and he worried about getting shaken down by protection rackets. He had reportedly started paying off other inmates through their commissary accounts.
In the afternoon, the prison psychologist stopped by for a ten-minute counseling session. The previous month, Epstein had been placed on twenty-four-hour suicide watch after prison guards found him unconscious in his cell. (Epstein denied that there had been a suicide attempt, but he was certainly not happy in prison.) He was removed from suicide watch after six days, on July 29, but he was still under psychological monitoring.
After the therapy session, Epstein met with his friend and lawyer David Schoen, who he believed was his key to getting out. Epstein had known Schoen, a balding, bespectacled sixty-one-year-old Alabama civil rights attorney, for more than a decade. Both men liked to trash-talk and had a distinct contempt for authority. They had grown closer over the past year, and Epstein often reached out to Schoen for legal advice.
Today Epstein had a bigger ask. He wanted to restructure his legal team and bring Schoen on board. It was an important step, one that he thought would help refocus his talented but disorganized camp of lawyers, putting them in a good position for the fight ahead. Moreover, he faced a curious problem: he felt let down by some of his more high-profile lawyers and betrayed because he did not believe they were fighting hard enough for him. He had seen how anyone associated with him had taken a public beating. Epstein had never been completely immune to or unaware of the public lashing he received. And yet he had no sympathy for the lawyers who would gladly cash his big checks and at the same time not sufficiently fight for him or, worse, were embarrassed to be associated with him. He needed someone who was fully on his side and asked Schoen to take the lead on trial preparation.
Epstein's trial date had been set for the following June, nearly a year away. His legal team believed they needed at least that much time to prepare for the complex case and review more than a million pages of discovery materials that prosecutors were expected to turn over.
Schoen said he was willing to come on board. The two men agreed to reconvene the week of August 12 to move forward on preparing for the trial. In the meantime, Schoen, who lived in Atlanta, planned to relocate part-time to New York for the duration of the case and began setting up a team of lawyers, too.
Schoen's support thrilled Epstein and gave him hope. Finally he was going to elevate the lawyer who would stand tall next to him and be willing to accept the public blowback for being associated with him.
"He was very upbeat," recalled Schoen. "He didn't want to be charged, but if he was, he was going to fight it all the way."
The Metropolitan Correctional Center, where the disgraced mogul spent his final days, is a twelve-story cinder-block building near the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge in lower Manhattan. Built in 1975 by Gruzen & Partners-the same design firm that built the posh Solow Tower condo building that Epstein lived in as an investment banker in the 1980s-the prison embodies that decade's brutalist architecture, with its poured-concrete walls and stark rectangular towers. The windows are made of thick shatterproof plastic with no obvious bars. There is no ground-level yard or security fence. From the outside, it could be mistaken for an aging government office building.
There, Epstein awaited his federal trial at the penitentiary that previously safely housed drug lords (El Chapo), mafiosi (John Gotti), terrorists (al-Qaeda operatives), Ponzi schemers (Bernie Madoff), and fraudsters (Paul Manafort). Epstein was incarcerated in the Special Housing Unit, a wing known as 9-South. The section is largely reserved for inmates in protective custody or who had been placed there for disciplinary purposes.
Epstein, a self-described money manager from Coney Island who claimed to work exclusively for billionaires and had built a fortune, was facing up to forty-five years in prison on underage sex trafficking charges. According to prosecutors, Epstein had recruited and sexually abused dozens of teenage girls at his houses in Manhattan and Palm Beach between 2002 and 2005. This was his second arrest for sex crimes; he was previously convicted of soliciting and procuring underage prostitutes in 2008. But the prior case had involved state charges in Florida, and Epstein had been able to cut a deal for a lenient sentence in a work-release program. This time, he was facing federal charges in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
"The victims, who were as young as 14 years of age, were told by Epstein or other individuals to partially or fully undress before beginning the 'massage,'" according to the July 2019 federal indictment. "During the encounter, Epstein would escalate the nature and scope of physical contact with his victim to include, among other things, sex acts such as groping and direct or indirect contact with the victim's genitals.
"Epstein would typically also masturbate during these sexualized encounters, ask victims to touch him while he masturbated, and touch victims' genitals with his hands or sex toys," said the indictment. "Victims were typically paid hundreds of dollars in cash for each encounter."
Epstein's legal issues had already caused problems for his powerful political friends. His looming high-profile trial could be an even greater liability.
The former president Bill Clinton was being hammered in the press for taking multiple trips on Epstein's private Boeing 727, nicknamed the Lolita Express. Prince Andrew's position in the royal family was in jeopardy after photos emerged of him with his hand around the waist of one of Epstein's alleged underage "sex slaves." President Donald Trump was being scrutinized for his social outings with Epstein in the 1990s, and a handful of other political figures-the former senator George Mitchell, the former governor Bill Richardson, and the former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak-also faced allegations for their involvement with Epstein.
But Epstein had no intention of going down quietly. He did not believe he had done anything wrong.
"His theory was always that sixteen-, seventeen-, eighteen-year-olds are having sex with their boyfriends," said Alan Dershowitz, the high-profile defense attorney who represented Epstein off and on for years, in an interview. "So, what's the big deal? They made $250. They gave him a massage. He masturbated. That's the end of it. He didn't think he ruined anybody's life. He never thought he did anything wrong. To the day he died, he never thought he did anything wrong. He thought that the culture was all screwed up about sex and young women."
Epstein's lawyers were confident of his chances. They believed the federal case against him was "pretty weak" due to several factors. First, Epstein had already entered a non-prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice more than a decade earlier that allowed him to plead guilty to state charges in Florida and avoid federal prosecution in that district. Because the latest charges involved some of the same incidents and victims, they argued that the federal government's Department of Justice was not allowed to retry him in another state.
Second, Epstein's lawyers felt they could make an argument for double jeopardy based on the prior prosecution. Finally, they thought the government had flimsy evidence when it came to interstate transportation of the girls, the key basis for bringing a federal indictment.
"He had a pretty good case," said Dershowitz. "Although the deck was stacked against him because he was Jeffrey Epstein, he might very well have won the case."
Epstein might have had another reason to feel he could get off easy.
When the feds raided his Manhattan mansion after his arrest in early July, they found "a vast trove of lewd photographs of young-looking women or girls." The photographs were locked up and highly organized. It amounted to child pornography. But it may also have been something else: blackmail, featuring not just young, innocent children but also the perpetrators.
It is unclear how Epstein acquired his photo stash, but friends said he had an extensive video surveillance system throughout his house in New York. Everything was monitored-the guest bedrooms, the bathrooms.
"There were cameras everywhere," said one longtime friend in an interview. "Why? That's good evidence that he's a blackmailer, and it's good evidence that he has some bad stuff on people."
Meanwhile, Epstein continued his daily monopoly of one of the third-floor legal conference rooms, which were technically supposed to be available to all inmates on a first-come basis. He filled his time with various legal matters. On Thursday, August 8, Epstein's financial attorneys established a trust in the Virgin Islands to house his assets. The move shielded the full scope of his fortune and created more legal hurdles for accusers who sued him for damages. Epstein also signed a new copy of his last will and testament that would transfer his $577 million fortune in disclosed assets to the trust in the event of his death.
The next day, August 9, Epstein met with his defense lawyers in the cramped third-floor conference room to talk trial strategy. By all accounts he was in a fighting mood, "just barking out orders with all the stuff that I had told them we need to start working on," said Schoen, who was back in Atlanta for the Jewish sabbath but received a readout after the meeting. "He [was] so excited about going forward."
The team planned to file an appeal motion the following Monday to try to get him out on bail-a fairly long shot. His lawyers were more confident about other avenues they were pursuing, such as their attempts to get the case tossed due to the non-prosecution agreement Epstein had entered with the federal government years earlier in Florida.
"We had a significant motion to dismiss. This was not a futile, you know, defeatist attitude," Epstein's lawyer Martin Weinberg would tell the court later.
The huddle lasted until nearly 8:00 p.m., when Epstein was escorted back to his cell by the overnight guard Tova Noel. That would be the last time anyone outside the prison saw him alive.
A Corpse on 9-South
It seems to me that he outsmarted everyone so far, and his ghost is still laughing at us.
court statement by one of Epstein's victims
Shortly after 6:00 the next morning, the two guards on duty, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, set out to deliver breakfast trays to the inmates on 9-South. Prison sources would later report hearing sounds of shrieking from the vicinity of Epstein's cell. Then handheld radios in the facility crackled to life, blaring the alert to all the guards on the morning shift: "Body alarm on South, body alarm on South."
Thomas said that he and Noel found the sixty-six-year-old inmate unresponsive and hanging from his bunk by a strip of orange fabric. The guard said he cut Epstein down from the makeshift noose.
"Responding [prison] staff immediately initiated life-saving measures," said the MCC warden Lamine N'Diaye in a letter to the U.S. District Court judge Richard M. Berman later that morning. They called paramedics who transported Epstein to the hospital five blocks away "for treatment of life-threatening injuries."
Epstein's cell was six feet by nine feet, according to MCC employees we interviewed, about half the size of an average parking space. The floor was dark gray concrete. A bunk bed, around four feet high with a metal frame, spanned the length of the far wall, and a concrete table the size of a TV dinner tray was bolted to the wall to the left of the door. This was the only furniture. Next to the entrance there was a metal toilet with no seat. The one window in the room, behind the bed, was latticed with thin wire bars.
Photos of the cell taken by investigators in the aftermath showed signs of confusion and perhaps even a struggle: one mattress on the floor, one still in place on the bottom bunk. Piles of crumpled orange sheets and fabric, a lot more than one bed's worth, were strewn around the room. A discarded sleep apnea machine was next to the toilet, with an upended paper coffee cup tossed on top of the wires. Nearby, there appeared to be a couple of brown puddles-or stains-on the concrete floor.
After Epstein's death, investigators found a yellow legal pad on the table with a few lines scribbled on it in ballpoint pen:
[Guard] kept me in a locked shower stall for one hour.
[Guard] sent in burnt food.
Giant bugs crawling on my hands.
Table of Contents
Part I The Death
1 Final Hours 2
2 A Corpse on 9-South 11
3 Stonewalling 19
4 What Happened 29
5 Blackmail 39
Part II An Indecent Life
6 Ill-Gotten Gains 47
7 The Accomplice 59
8 The Victims 71
9 The Perps 81
10 How He Got Away the First Time 91
11 The Prince 99
12 The Politician 113
13 Epstein's Secret 139
14 The Smart Set 161
15 The Media 179
16 The Arrest 197