Jeffrey Epstein reportedly dies by suicide in NYC jail | CBC News

Financier Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in New York City, a former law enforcement official said Saturday.

He was found in his cell at the Manhattan Correctional Center Saturday morning, according to the officials, who was briefed on the matter, but spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss it publicly. The medical examiner's office in Manhattan confirmed Epstein's death.

Epstein's arrest last month launched separate investigations into how authorities handled his case initially when similar charges were first brought against him in Florida more than a decade ago. U.S. Labour Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned last month after coming under fire for overseeing that deal when he was U.S. attorney in Miami.

Epstein, 66, had pleaded not guilty and was facing up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

Previous injuries self-inflicted?

A little over two weeks ago, Epstein was found on the floor of his jail cell with bruises on his neck, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity. At the time, it was not clear whether the injuries were self-inflicted or from an assault.

Epstein's arrest drew national attention, particularly focusing on a deal that allowed Epstein to plead guilty in 2008 to soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida and avoid more serious federal charges.

A protest group called 'Hot Mess' hold up signs of Jeffrey Epstein in front of the federal courthouse in New York City on July 8. (Getty Images)

Federal prosecutors in New York reopened the probe after investigative reporting by the Miami Herald stirred outrage over that plea bargain.

But his lawyers maintained that the new charges brought by federal prosecutors in New York were covered by the deal and were improper.

They said he hasn't had any illicit contact with underage girls since serving his 13-month sentence in Florida.

Before his legal troubles, Epstein led a life of extraordinary luxury that drew powerful people into his orbit.

He socialized with princes and presidents, and lived on a 40-hectare private island in the Caribbean and in one of the biggest mansions in New York.

A college dropout, he became a sought-after benefactor of professors and scientists, donating millions of dollars to Harvard University and other causes.

Still, it was never entirely clear how the middle-class Brooklyn math whiz became a Wall Street master of high finance.