As Epstein died, guards allegedly shopped online and slept
Two jail guards responsible for monitoring Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself were sleeping and browsing the internet instead, according to an indictment released Tuesday charging the guards with lying on prison records to cover themselves.
The grand jury indictment provides a damning glimpse of safety lapses inside a high-security unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, where Epstein had been awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
The indictment, leaning in part on images from security cameras on the cell block, also contains new details reinforcing the idea that, for all the intrigue regarding Epstein and his connections to powerful people, his death was a suicide and possibly preventable.
“The defendants had a duty to ensure the safety and security of federal inmates in their care at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said. “Instead, they repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates, and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction.”
Instead of making required rounds every 30 minutes, guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas sat at their desks just 15 feet from Epstein’s cell, shopped online for furniture and motorcycles, and walked around the unit’s common area, the indictment said. During one two-hour period, it said, both appeared to have been asleep.
Prosecutors said security footage confirmed that no one entered the area where Epstein was housed on the night he died — evidence that might also dampen conspiracy theories by people who have questioned whether he really took his own life.
A lawyer for Thomas, Montell Figgins, said both guards are being “scapegoated.”
“We feel this is a rush to judgment by the U.S. attorney’s office,” he said. “They’re going after the low man on the totem pole here.”
Noel’s lawyer, Jason Foy, said he hoped to “reach a reasonable agreement” with the government that could avoid a trial.
Both correctional officers pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon and were released on $100,000 bond. The defendants, hiding their faces with clothing, left the courthouse in separate cars waiting for them in the shadow of the jail where they had worked and Epstein died.
Source: AP News