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Two prison guards who were on duty during the night Jeffrey Epstein killed himself have been taken into custody Tuesday on federal charges linked to their alleged failure to check on his wellbeing.
The guards, identified as Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, have been charged with making false records and conspiring to make false records and to defraud the United States by impairing the lawful functions of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the New York facility where Epstein was found dead on Aug. 10, prosecutors announced.
“As alleged, the defendants had a duty to ensure the safety and security of federal inmates in their care at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. “Instead, they repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates, and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction.”
Both guards surrendered themselves to authorities Tuesday morning, prosecutors say.
An indictment filed today in Manhattan federal court alleges that Noel and Thomas “repeatedly failed to complete mandated counts of prisoners under their watch in the MCC’s Special Housing Unit,” according to a statement from the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.
“Instead, for substantial portions of their shifts, Noel and Thomas sat at their desk, browsed the internet, and moved around the common area of the SHU,” the statement said. “To conceal their failure to perform their duties, Noel and Thomas repeatedly signed false certifications attesting to having conducted multiple counts of inmates that they did not do.
“As a result of those false statements,” prosecutors say, “the MCC believed prisoners in the SHU were being regularly monitored when, in fact, as a result of the defendants’ conduct, no correctional officer conducted any count or round of the SHU from approximately 10:30 p.m. on August 9 until approximately 6:30 a.m. on August 10, at which time, Noel and Thomas discovered the body of MCC inmate Jeffrey Epstein, who had committed suicide overnight while unobserved.”