WASHINGTON (AP) — The warden who ran the federal jail where disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein killed himself was allowed to quietly retire from the Bureau of Prisons in February.
His retirement came in the midst of an investigation examining how one of the government’s highest-profile inmates could take his own life in custody.
Lamine N’Diaye retired from the Bureau of Prisons on February 26, agency spokesperson Kristie Breshears told The Associated Press on Tuesday. He was most recently the warden at FCI Fort Dix, a low-security prison in Burlington County, New Jersey.
He had been put in that position despite the ongoing federal probe and in direct contradiction of a public pronouncement from the Bureau of Prisons that it would delay N’Diaye’s transfer to run any prison until the inquiry by the Justice Department’s inspector general was finished.
FCI Fort Dix, located on the grounds of the joint military base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, is the largest single federal prison by population, with just under 3,000 inmates. An adjacent prison camp has 231 minimum-security inmates.
Under N’Diaye’s watch as warden, an inmate at Fort Dix was stabbed in the eyeball by a fellow prisoner, exemplifying the gruesome chronic violence that plagues the Bureau of Prisons and quickly added to calls from congressional lawmakers for the Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal to resign from his position. Carvajal announced in January he was resigning but has remained in place while the Justice Department searches for a replacement.
A handful of inmates — some of whom were believed to be friends and associates of the suspected attacker — have been held in segregated housing units for more than four months and some were threatened with transfers if they didn’t cooperate with the investigation into the stabbing, two people familiar with the matter told The AP. The people could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.
N’Diaye was previously the warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the now-closed federal lockup in Manhattan. He was removed from that position after Epstein killed himself at the jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Prosecutors say the guards who were supposed to be monitoring Epstein were instead sleeping and browsing the internet. The Bureau of Prisons closed the jail in October for much-needed repairs after years of decay, though it may never reopen.
The Bureau of Prisons named N’Diaye as warden at Fort Dix in February 2021 despite an ongoing federal investigation into lapses that led to Epstein’s death and in contradiction of its pronouncement that the agency would delay any move until the inquiry was finished.
The bureau attempted to place N’Diaye in the Fort Dix job a year earlier, but the move was stopped by then-Attorney General William Barr after the AP reported the transfer.
The Justice Department’s inspector general has yet to complete the investigation. A spokesperson for Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Tuesday that the probe was still ongoing.