The two Bureau of Prisons workers tasked with guarding Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself in a New York jail have admitted they falsified records, but they will skirt any time behind bars under a deal with federal prosecutors, authorities said Friday.
The prison workers, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, were accused of sleeping and browsing the internet instead of monitoring Epstein the night he took his own life in August 2019.
They were charged with lying on prison records to make it seem as though they had made required checks on the financier before he was found in his cell.
Michael Thomas and Tova Noel, two federal jail guards responsible for monitoring Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself will not go to prison after making a deal with prosecutors
Michael Thomas, a federal jail guard responsible for monitoring Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself has admitted he falsified records but will not face any time behind bars
An artist’s sketch created inside the courtroom, where cameras were banned. Pictured in November 2019
New York City´s medical examiner ruled Epstein´s death a suicide.
As part of the deal with prosecutors, they will enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department and will serve no time behind bars, according to a letter from federal prosecutors that was filed in court papers Friday.
Noel and Thomas would instead be subjected to supervised release, would be required to complete 100 hours of community service and would be required to fully cooperate with an ongoing probe by the Justice Department´s inspector general, it says.
The two have ‘admitted that they `willfully and knowingly completed materially false count and round slips regarding required counts and rounds´’ in the housing unit where Epstein was being held, the letter says.
Tova Noel, center in yellow blouse, a second federal jail guard responsible for monitoring Epstein also cut a deal with federal prosecutors, authorities said on Friday
Pictures of the interior of Jeffrey Epstein’s jail cell are seen with bedding and prison clothing strewn throughout
The exterior of Epstein’s cell following his August 2019 suicide
The deal would need to be approved by a judge, which could come as soon as next week.
Prosecutors alleged that Noel and Thomas sat at their desks just 15 feet from Epstein’s cell, shopped online for furniture and motorcycles, and walked around the unit´s common area instead of making required rounds every 30 minutes.
During one two-hour period, both appeared to have been asleep, according to the indictment filed against them.
Noel and Thomas, who were assigned to Epstein’s Special Housing Unit at the federal jail, failed to check on him every half-hour, as required, and fabricated log entries that claimed they had.
The two guards were required to jointly conduct institutional counts at 4pm, 10pm, 12am, 3am and 5am of the prisoners in the unit. They were supposed to walk the six levels of the unit to count every inmate.
Both officers who were guarding Epstein were working overtime because of staffing shortages.
One of the guards, who did not primarily work as a correctional officer, was working a fifth straight day of overtime.
Photos of Jeffrey Epstein’s dead body, his cell and the noose he used to take his own life
The photos from inside his cell reveal that fragments of material were found hanging from a window, while a large strip of bedding was also looped through a hole on the top bunk bed
The other guard was working mandatory overtime, meaning a second eight-hour shift of the day.
Epstein, the financier and registered sex offender, died at age 66 in August 2019 He was found hanging in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Manhattan
Before they were arrested, both officers had declined a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
Epstein’s death and the revelation that he was able to kill himself while behind bars at one of the most secure jails in America was a major embarrassment for the Bureau of Prisons and cast a spotlight on the agency, which has also been besieged by serious misconduct in recent years.
Staffing shortages at the agency are so severe that guards often work overtime day after day or are forced to work mandatory double shifts.
Violence leads to regular lockdowns at federal prison compounds across the U.S. And a congressional report released in 2019 found that ‘bad behavior is ignored or covered up on a regular basis.’
The falsification of records has been a problem throughout the federal prison system.
Union officials have long argued that the reduction of staff is putting both guards and inmates in danger, but they´ve faced an uphill battle getting attention.
Epstein was found hanging in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, pictured, in downtown Manhattan
The body of Jeffrey Epstein is brought out by medical examiners at the lower Manhattan hospital in New York and taken to the Medical Examiners office. Pictured in August 2019
The procedures that should’ve been followed in Epstein’s jail unit:
The two guards were required to jointly conduct institutional counts at 4pm, 10pm, 12am, 3am and 5am of the prisoners in the unit.
Both officers are required to walk the six levels of the unit to count and observe every inmate.
They then have to each fill in and sign a form with the date and time the counts were performed.
The slips are then collected and taken to the prison’s control center where officers double check them to make sure every inmate is accounted for.
In addition to the count, officers assigned to the unit Epstein was in are required to walk around every 30 minutes to ensure inmates are ‘alive and accounted for’, according to the indictment.
They are also required to sign forms saying they carried out these 30-minute checks.
In total, the two guards were required to carry out five institutional counts.
Prosecutors said surveillance video shows the officers did not conduct a single count despite them logging that they did.
They were also accused of falsely signing off that they had carried out more than 75 separate 30-minute checks to which the pair have since admitted.