The two corrections officers responsible for guarding the jail cell of convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York the night of his death have been arrested.
The Associated Press reports guards Toval Noel and Michael Thomas were arrested on Tuesday for falsifying records to make it look like they had adequately checked on Epstein the night of his death. They were required to do so every 30 minutes, but they reportedly failed to check on him for nearly eight hours.
“Prosecutors allege that instead of making their required rounds, the two guards sat at their desks, browsed the internet and walked around the unit’s common area. During one two-hour period, the indictment said, both appeared to have been asleep,” the Associated Press reports.
The charges against the officers are the first in connection with the wealthy financier’s death in August at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, where he had been awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
The city’s medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide. Prosecutors said surveillance cameras confirmed that no one else entered the area in which he was housed.
“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 Geoffrey S. Berman said.
Two correctional officers responsible for guarding Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself were charged with falsifying prison records. The guards are accused of failing to perform checks on Epstein every half hour and of fabricating log entries. https://t.co/DoffS1Dg5f
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 19, 2019
While Epstein’s death was ruled a “suicide,” Attorney General William Barr claimed to have found “serious irregularities” which has caused some people to question the official story.
Barr found that the high-security cell where Epstein died previously held terrorists and drug kingpins, leading to the assumption it would have been appropriately guarded to prevent Epstein from taking his own life.
The Associated Press reports Barr also found that some witnesses at the correctional facility were uncooperative, that Epstein was on suicide watch at the time of his death, and that the facility was “suffering from problems including chronic staffing shortages that lead to mandatory overtime for guards day after day and other staff being pressed into service as correctional officers.”
Both MCC guards expected to face charges in connection with Jeffrey Epstein's death are now in custody, per @MarkMorales51.
They are expected to appear in court in SDNY this afternoon. https://t.co/pPiYCyXmXF
— erica orden (@eorden) November 19, 2019
According to the report, the guards that were arrested rejected a plea deal which would have had them admit to falsifying the records.
Here’s more from the Associated Press:
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.
Epstein’s death ended the possibility of a trial that would have involved prominent figures and sparked widespread anger that he wouldn’t have to answer for the allegations.
He had pleaded not guilty and was preparing to argue that he could not be charged because of a 2008 deal he made to avoid federal prosecution on similar allegations.
Epstein’s death prompted a whirl of conspiracy theories from people, including members of Epstein’s family and some of his alleged victims, who questioned whether it was possible that he’d killed himself in such a high-security setting.