The FBI has formally charged the two correctional officers on duty the night Jeffrey Epstein reportedly died by suicide.
ABC News broke the story on Tuesday, which alleges that officers Tova Noel, 31, and Michael Thomas, 41, falsified official records to cover up their own failure to monitor accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Specifically, the pair were 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, a Manhattan detention facility that houses federal inmates,” according to a statement from the Southern District of New York.
Those charges, along with additional charges of conspiracy, each carry a maximum five-year prison sentence if found guilty.
“As alleged, 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,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman said in the release.
According to the indictment, in the eight hours before Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell no one checked on him. To make matters worse, court documents also confirm that Epstein previously tried to kill himself in July – which suggests he should have been under increased monitoring.
Instead, prosecutors allege that Noel and Thomas, who were the only officers on duty in Epstein’s block, fell asleep for two hours during their shift. When they weren’t sleeping, it is said that they spent their remaining time surfing the internet for furniture sales and sports news.
Thomas had been a correctional officer in the jail since 2007, and Noel since 2016.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which runs the facility, there hadn’t been an inmate suicide in the jail since 2006. That is, before Jeffrey Epstein’s high-profile case.
Both Noel and Thomas pleaded not guilty and were released on $100,000 bond each. They are currently due for a pretrial conference on Dec. 11.
The officers have the support of The Bureau of Prisons local union, which released a statement through Local President Tyrone Covington saying:
“We are disappointment with the indictments released today by the Southern District of New York. These indictments don’t address the core issues inside of the Metropolitan Correctional Center New York or the Federal Prison system in its entirety. These staff were placed in an assignment where the tools and resources needed to be successful were not available. Simply assigning blame will not correct the staff shortages that put this chain of events in place.”
Covington continued, “While the indictment indicates these staff did not conduct [a] 30 minute round, it is a fact that even had they conducted the 30 minute rounds, Mr. Epstein still would’ve had 29 minutes to take his own life. It is clear to us that these indictments are a mask to cover up the true issues and merely be able to create a narrative that government has taken action. The Council Of Prisons Local 3148 will stand with all staff impacted by the events at MCC NY. We encourage the public at large to look at the facts of this event. It is important not to rush to judgment but instead be mindful and open to all the facts in the case.”
It’s all yet another twist in the Jeffrey Epstein case, which has rocked social media with a flood of memes calling attention to the bizarre circumstances surrounding his death.
Part of the interest in the Epstein saga is related to his previous ties to high-profile individuals ranging from former US President Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, billionaire Bill Gates, President Donald Trump, and others.