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Crime Guards Accused of Napping and Shopping Online the Night Epstein Died

00:50  20 november  2019
00:50  20 november  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

Guards Arrested In Jeffrey Epstein Suicide: Report

  Guards Arrested In Jeffrey Epstein Suicide: Report Two correction officers stand accused of failing to check on Epstein then falsifying records to cover their tracks, according to reports.Both guards stand accused falsifying Metropolitan Correctional Center records after Epstein, recently charged with sex trafficking, was found hanging in his cell on Aug. 10, sources told the New York Post.

Guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas were accused in a grand jury indictment of neglecting their duties by failing to check on Epstein for nearly eight Among them: Prosecutors said security camera footage confirming that no one entered the area where Epstein was housed on the night he died .

Two prison guards tasked with watching over Epstein on night he killed himself charged. Two prison guards who were on duty on the night of Jeffrey Epstein 's death have been charged with falsifying records. They are accused of failing to check in on him every 30 minutes and fabricating log entries

The night that Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself in a Manhattan jail, one of the guards on duty was catching up on sports news and looking at motorcycle sales on a government computer. The other spent time shopping online for furniture. For about two hours, they appeared to be asleep at a desk just 15 feet away from Mr. Epstein’s cell.

The Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.© Haruka Sakaguchi for The New York Times The Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

Those details were revealed in an indictment unsealed on Tuesday against the two jail employees. The indictment said neither guard made the required rounds every 30 minutes to check on inmates. Yet both filed paperwork claiming they had.

April trial date set for guards charged in Epstein death

  April trial date set for guards charged in Epstein death NEW YORK (AP) — A judge set an April trial date Monday for two jail guards accused of failing to make required checks on Jeffrey Epstein the morning he died. The trial of guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas can begin April 20, U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres said. The guards after their arrest last week pleaded not guilty to lying on prison records to make it seem as though they had made required checks on the financier before he was found in his cell Aug. 10. New York City’s medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide.Epstein was awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused teenage girls at his Manhattan mansion and a Florida home.

One of the two people guarding Jeffrey Epstein when he apparently hanged himself in a federal jail cell was not a full-fledged correctional officer, and neither guard had checked on Mr. Epstein for several hours before he was discovered, prison and law-enforcement officials said.

The two guards are accused of repeatedly signing false certifications saying that they had conducted multiple counts of inmates during their shift. Both Epstein 's brother and the lawyers who represented him in his criminal case have expressed doubts about the medical examiner's conclusion.

The entire night, from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., security cameras showed that nobody entered the wing where Mr. Epstein had been left alone in his cell, the indictment said. The guards, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, only discovered Mr. Epstein was dead when they entered the area to serve him breakfast.

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“I messed up,” Mr. Thomas reportedly told a supervisor just minutes later, according to the indictment.

On Tuesday, Mr. Thomas, 41, and Ms. Noel, 31, became the first people to face charges stemming from a criminal investigation into the death of Mr. Epstein, the disgraced financier who the authorities say killed himself at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan where he was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

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In that incident, guards rushed to Epstein ’s cell when his cellmate at the time, Nicholas Tartaglione, began yelling, according to these people. Epstein was placed on suicide watch, but officials lifted those measures six days later, on July 29. Justice Dept. reassigns warden of jail where Epstein died .

Epstein died after apparently hanging himself in his New York prison cellCredit: AP:Associated Press. It has since been reported that guards did not follow standard procedure and check on Epstein One source told the Daily Beast that Epstein “lived like a pig in a sty” after the first “suicide

The indictment against the two guards laid out, for the first time, a detailed, official narrative of what happened inside the high-security unit where Mr. Epstein died. Prosecutors painted a picture of two experienced correctional officers who failed to perform their basic duties.

“The defendants had a duty to ensure the safety and security of federal inmates in their care at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,” Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement. “Instead, they repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction.”

Ms. Noel, 31, and Mr. Thomas, 41, were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and with making false records. They both surrendered to the F.B.I. on Tuesday morning and pleaded not guilty at a hearing in United States District Court in Manhattan in the afternoon. Bail was set at $100,000 each.

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The guards are accused of failing to conduct regular checks on Epstein , who hanged himself with a bedsheet in prison. Prosecutors alleged that Epstein "sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls" at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, and at other locations from at least 2002 to

Two guards at the Manhattan Correctional Center (MCC), Michael Thomas and Tova Noel, have been indicted for falsifying records on the night of Epstein 's death there. The case involving the two guards , and the new facts in the indictment against them, do not change the official determination that

Instead of monitoring detainees, the two “sat at their desk, browsed the internet and moved around the common area,” the indictment said. They then signed “count sheets” saying they had checked on inmates multiple times overnight when they had not.

Mr. Epstein, 66, had been in custody for more than a month when he was found dead on Aug. 10, having hanged himself from a bunk bed with a strip of bedsheet. New York City’s chief medical examiner ruled the death a suicide.

Lawyers for Mr. Epstein have challenged that finding, and a forensic pathologist hired by Mr. Epstein’s family has claimed that broken bones and cartilage in Mr. Epstein’s neck “points to homicide.”

But the indictment appeared to back up the medical examiner’s finding. It said that the two correction officers on duty were the only people who would have had access to the ninth-floor “special housing unit” where Mr. Epstein was being held.

Security camera video showed two other officers entered the unit’s common area during the night and spoke to the guards, but no one entered the locked block of eight cells where Mr. Epstein was housed.

AG Barr: Epstein’s death was a ‘perfect storm of screw-ups’

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Three weeks before Mr. Epstein’s death, he had been found injured on the floor of his cell with a bedsheet wrapped around his neck in what appeared to be a suicide attempt. Mr. Thomas was one of the officers who found him, according to the indictment.

Mr. Epstein was then placed on a 24-hour suicide watch in a hospital wing until July 30. He was subsequently required to have a cellmate and was assigned to the cell closest to the correction officers’ desk in the special housing unit.

But on Aug. 9, the day before Mr. Epstein was found dead, his cellmate was transferred out in a “routine, prearranged transfer,” the indictment said.

That evening, Ms. Noel and Mr. Thomas were both working overtime shifts. Ms. Noel had been working as a correction officer in the Manhattan jail since 2016. Mr. Thomas started there as a correction officer in 2007, and though he was assigned to another position within the jail in 2013, he frequently worked overtime shifts as an officer, the indictment said.

Mr. Epstein was escorted into his cell by Ms. Noel and another guard shortly before 8 p.m., according to the indictment. By 10 p.m., inmates were locked in their cells for the night.

At around 10:30 p.m., surveillance footage showed Ms. Noel walking up to the only door to the cluster of cells where Mr. Epstein was housed, the indictment said. Over the next few hours, nobody approached the wing, including Ms. Noel and Mr. Thomas. They were supposed to check in on Mr. Epstein and other inmates every half-hour.

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Both guards falsified records to cover up what they had done, according to the indictment. Ms. Noel signed more than 75 entries that night suggesting she had conducted 30-minute checks.

The next morning, when Ms. Noel and Mr. Thomas entered Mr. Epstein’s cell, they found him unresponsive “with a noose around his neck,” according to the indictment. When a supervisor arrived, the guards admitted they had not properly performed their duties.

“We did not complete the 3 a.m. nor 5 a.m. rounds,” Ms. Noel said, according to the indictment.

Mr. Thomas said, “She’s not to blame, we didn’t do any rounds.”

The director of the Bureau of Prisons, Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, said in a statement that the agency was taking the allegations of misconduct “very seriously” and they “will be responded to appropriately.”

The Bureau of Prisons has completed its own internal audit of whether procedures were followed at the Manhattan jail and the conduct of its staff, but the results are not expected to be publicly released, according to people familiar with the audit.

Mr. Thomas’s lawyer, Montell Figgins, said his client was being singled out for blame while senior officials at the Bureau of Prisons were not being held accountable for what he called “fundamental lapses in the organization and management” of the agency.

“My client feels that there was a rush to judgment in this matter and that he’s being scapegoated,” Mr. Figgins said.

A lawyer for Ms. Noel, Jason E. Foy, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Jose Rojas, an official in the prison workers’ union and a teacher at the Coleman prison complex in Sumter County, Fla., said that, although he did not condone falsifying records, the two prison staff members were being scapegoated for Mr. Epstein’s death.

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Mr. Rojas said missing rounds and doctoring records were not generally treated as a criminal matter in the bureau. And, he said, there was blame to go around, pointing to the prison’s failure to assign Mr. Epstein another cellmate the day he died.

“There’s culpability at the top,” Mr. Rojas said. “They always try to blame the lowest person on the totem pole.”

The Manhattan jail had been short staffed for quite some time, reflecting a larger shortage of correctional officers in federal facilities across the country. On the night when Mr. Epstein died, Ms. Noel had been scheduled to work a 16-hour double shift. Mr. Thomas had volunteered to work, having already done several tours of overtime that week.

“Simply assigning blame will not correct the staff shortages that put this chain of events in place,” said Tyrone Covington, president of the local union that represents employees at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

He called the indictment “a mask to cover up the true issues” and said it was meant “to create a narrative that government has taken action.”

As the indictment was announced in New York, Ms. Sawyer testified in Washington before the Senate Judiciary Committee, telling lawmakers that the agency was trying to identify problem employees and monitoring cameras to make sure staff members were doing their jobs.

When asked if there was a widespread problem of Bureau of Prisons employees sleeping on the job, she said that there were “a few.”

Katie Benner, Nicole Hong, William K. Rashbaum and Ali Watkins contributed reporting.

Britain's Prince Andrew steps down from public duties .
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