The Associated Press

NEW YORK — The warden at the federal jail where Jeffrey Epstein took his own life over the weekend was removed Tuesday and two guards who were supposed to be watching the financier were placed on leave while federal authorities investigate the death.

The move by the Justice Department came amid mounting evidence that the chronically understaffed Metropolitan Correctional Center may have bungled its responsibility to keep the 66-year-old Epstein from harming himself while he awaited trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls.

Epstein was taken off a suicide watch last month for reasons that have not been explained, and was supposed to have been checked on by a guard every 30 minutes. But investigators learned those checks weren’t done for several hours before he was found Saturday morning, according to a person familiar with the case who was not authorized to discuss it and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Attorney General William Barr ordered warden Lamine N’Diaye temporarily assigned to the Bureau of Prisons’ regional office while the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general investigate. The two guards were not identified.

While the exact manner of Epstein’s death has not been officially announced, a second person familiar with operations at the jail said the financier was discovered in his cell with a bedsheet around his neck.

The warden of an institution in upstate New York has been named the acting warden at the jail.

Eric Young, president of the union council that represents prison guards, said that such reassignments are routinely done to “protect the integrity of investigations until any formal action, if any, is warranted.”

Jose Rojas, a union leader and teacher at a federal prison in Florida, said N’Diaye should be home without pay instead of being reassigned.

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