The two guards who were supposed to be watching Jeffrey Epstein the night he died were charged on Tuesday with counts of filing false records and conspiracy.
Tova Noel and Michael Thomas plead not guilty and were both released on a $100,000 bond.
Epstein was found dead three months ago at the Metropolitan Correctional Center where he was awaiting trial on charges that he operated a sex trafficking ring.
Ever since Epstein’s death, which New York City’s chief medical examiner said was a suicide, there has been speculation that he was murdered. These rumors were fueled recently when a medical examiner hired by Epstein’s brother said that his injuries appeared to be the result of strangulation by a person, not by hanging.
One of the facts that started the murder rumors was that the guards were not watching Epstein as directed. Instead of checking on prisoners every 20 minutes, they played games on the internet and hung out in the common area. For two hours that night, both Noel and Thomas claimed to be asleep at their desks. They didn’t complete any prisoner counts between 10:30 pm and 6:30 am.
Originally Noel and Thomas lied, saying they only missed their 3 am to 5 am rounds.
When asked about the charges, the head of the local federal prison workers union, Tyrone Covington, said:
“Simply assigning blame will not correct the staff shortages that put this chain of events in place. While the indictment indicates these staff did not conduct 30-minute rounds, it is a fact that even had they conducted the 30-minute rounds, Mr. Epstein still would have had 29 minutes to take his own life.”
We’ll keep you updated on this situation as it unfolds.
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