By Sean Jackson
The two federal corrections officers who were on duty the night Jeffery Epstein allegedly committed suicide in a Mahattan jail are charged with failing to check on him every 30-minutes and then lying that they did on official prison documents.
The two Bureau of Prison employees, Michael Thomas and Tova Noel, are expected to appear in the United States District Court in Manhattan to face charges including falsifying records and conspiracy to defraud a federal court.
According to the indictment, Noel admits to not checking in on Epstein, “We did not complete the 3 a.m. nor 5 a.m. rounds.”
Thomas admitted, “We messed up… I messed up, she’s not to blame. We didn’t do any rounds.”
These are the first charges to arise from the criminal investigation into the death of Jeffery Epstein, a former financier accused of sex-trafficking, who reportedly hanged himself at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan while awaiting trial. Epstein pleaded not guilty and the trial was set for next year. If convicted he could have faced 45 years in prison.
The indictment charges Noel, 31, and Thomas, 41, with making false records. The employees were supposed to sign ‘count sheets’ which indicates they had check on inmates several times throughout the night. Instead the indictment indicates that the two federal employees “sat at their desk, browsed the internet, and moved around the common area.”
The workers only discovered Epstein’s body - only 15 feet from their desk - at 6:30 a.m. when they went to give him breakfast.
Geoffrey Berman, the United States Attorney in Manhattan indicated that the two prison workers abandoned their duties, saying, “The defendants had a duty to ensure the safety and security of federal inmates in their care at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Instead, they repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction.”
Epstein was in custody for over a month when guards found him hanging in his cell on August 10th. New York City’s chief medical examiner ruled his death a suicide. Epstein’s lawyers challenged the findings, and a forensic pathologist hired by Epstein’s family claims that the “evidence points to homicide.”
Jose Rojas, an official for the prison workers’ union, and teacher at the Coleman prison complex in Florida says that while the prison staff’s conduct is culpable, they are also potentially being scapegoated for the lapse in supervision.
“There is culpability at the top,” Rojas stated. “They always try to blame the lowest person on the totem pole.”
Three weeks prior to his death Epstein was found in his cell injured, which was investigated as a possible suicide attempt. At the time of his death, Epstein was taken off suicide watch, but was supposed to have another inmate in the cell with him.