Two prison guards tasked with guarding Jeffrey Epstein the night he died have admitted to falsifying records, but will escape jail time under a deal with federal prosecutors.
Tova Noel and Michael Thomas from the Bureau of Prisons were accused of sleeping and scrolling through the internet the night Epstein died, rather than following proper monitoring procedures.
The two were charged with lying on prison records to make it seem like they had performed the required checks before Epstein was found.
In court papers on Friday, federal prosecutors said that Noel and Thomas will enter a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department and serve no jail time.
The pair admitted they“‘wilfully and knowingly completed materially false count and round slips regarding required counts and rounds,” according to the letter.
Republican Senator Ben Sasse, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee called the deal “unacceptable” and that the public deserves a report detailing the prison agency’s failings. Sasse was not pleased, saying in a statement “The leader of an international child sex trafficking ring escaped justice, his co-conspirators had their secrets go to the grave with him, and these guards are going to be picking up trash on the side of the road.”
The federal prosecutors claim that the two guards, sat only 15 feet from Epstein’s cell, failed to make the required rounds every half-an-hour, and at one point, appeared to have both been asleep.
Thomas and Noel were both working overtime, one on their fifth day of overtime, and the other on their second eight hour shift of the day. Such conditions arose from staff shortages.
For the Bureau of Prisons, the death of a prisoner in one of America’s most secure prisons was highly embarrassing. Staffing shortages are common at the Bureau, where guards often work consecutive days of overtime or are forced into mandatory double shifts.
The falsification of records has long been an issue in the USA’s federal prison system, alongside bouts of prison violence and regular lockdowns. Union officials have often warned that the cutting of staff numbers puts not only the guards but prisoners in danger. A 2019 congressional report noted “bad behaviour is ignored or covered up on a regular basis.”
Philip English, is a member of the YCL’s Manchester Branch