Epstein prison guards charged over falsifying records

Published November 20, 2019, 7:16 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Agence France-Presse

Two guards who were on duty the night Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide in a high-security jail were charged Tuesday with falsifying records after they apparently failed to check on him.

Epstein, 66, was found dead in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on August 10 as he awaited trial on allegations that he trafficked girls as young as 14 for sex.

US justice officials are investigating how the wealthy financier, one of America’s most high-profile on-remand detainees, was able to kill himself when he was supposed to be under close watch.

New York prosecutors charged Tova Noel, 31, and Michael Thomas, 41, Tuesday with making false records to defraud the United States by impairing the lawful function of a federal prison.

The indictment — unsealed in a Manhattan court — accused the defendants of failing to carry out mandated prisoner checks and then signing false records to cover their tracks.

“As alleged, the defendants had a duty to ensure the safety and security of federal inmates in their care at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,” said US attorney Geoffrey Berman.

“Instead, they repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates, and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction,” he added.

Epstein was a multi-millionaire hedge fund manager who hobnobbed with countless celebrities over the years, including Britain’s Prince Andrew and US President Donald Trump.

Epstein was charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and another of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.

He denied the charges but faced up to 45 years in jail if found guilty.

After his death dozens of women came forward to say they had been abused by him and several have sued his estate for damages.

The prison guards’ indictments were announced a day after another woman accused Epstein of sexually abusing her when she was 15.

The woman, who is using the name Jane Doe 15, told a news conference in Los Angeles the financier took her to his ranch in New Mexico and raped her there.

“Epstein took my sexual innocence in front of a wall of framed photographs of him shaking hands and smiling with celebrities and political leaders. I was only 15 years old,” she said.

“After, he wanted to talk with me about what had just been my first sexual experience and directed me to take time to myself that night to cry. He said that would be beneficial to my growth.”

Epstein’s death fueled several conspiracy theories, mostly speculating that he had been murdered to stop him from revealing compromising information about some of his wealthy acquaintances.

He was convicted in Florida in 2008 of paying young girls for massages but served just 13 months in jail under a secret plea deal struck with the then state prosecutor.