Federal judge dismisses charges against guards who falsified records the night Jeffrey Epstein died
Taylor Romine, CNN
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(CNN) — A federal judge in New York on Monday dismissed charges against two Bureau of Prisons guards who admitted to falsifying records on the night Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide in 2019, court documents show.
US District Court Judge Analisa Torres ordered the charges dropped against guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas after prosecutors said in a filing last week that the guards completed deferred prosecution agreements signed in May.
The guards agreed to provide “truthful information related to their employment by the Bureau of Prisons, including about the events and circumstances described in the Indictment,” according to a letter from federal prosecutors that was filed in court papers.
The guards had to complete 100 hours of community service and cooperate with a Department of Justice Inspector General review, authorities said in May.
Epstein was awaiting trial at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, having pleaded not guilty to federal charges accusing him of operating a sex trafficking ring from 2002 to 2005 at his Manhattan mansion and his Palm Beach estate, and allegedly paying girls as young as 14 for sex.
He was found dead in his cell on August 10, 2019. A medical examiner ruled it was suicide by hanging.
Noel and Thomas were working as guards that night. According to the initial indictment in the case, the guards repeatedly failed to complete the required count of prisoners on their watch in the specialized housing unit where he was being held.
Jason Foy, an attorney for Noel, said she did not take any action with the intention of committing a crime. “The shortcomings and mistakes made by Ms. Noel were a result of inexperience, lack of proper and sufficient training, and being put in a position to fail by the leadership of MCC and the Bureau of Prisons,” Foy said in a statement.
CNN has reached out to the attorney for Thomas but did not immediately hear back.
In November 2019, Noel and Thomas pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and filing false records.
According to the initial indictment, the two signed false certifications saying they had performed their duties.
The night Epstein died, no officer completed any count or round in the unit between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., at which time Noel and Thomas discovered Epstein’s body, the indictment said.
The decision comes as Epstein’s life has received fresh scrutiny in the aftermath of the prosecution of his longtime girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell for sex trafficking charges.
A jury in New York last week found her guilty on five of six counts related to her role in Epstein’s sexual abuse of minor girls between 1994 and 2004.
Maxwell now faces up to 65 years in prison, but some legal commentators think she might cooperate with prosecutors on other cases before sentencing.
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