Epstein's Jail Guards 'Were Online Shopping and Napping' When He Died, Court Hears
Two federal Bureau of Prisons employees charged over death of Jeffrey Epstein
Two prison guards, who were meant to be watching Jeffrey Epstein, were "online shopping and napping" when the Clinton-linked sex offender died in his jail cell, a court has heard.
The two correctional officers were responsible for guarding Epstein on the night he was found dead.
However, the pair was allegedly shopping online for furniture and sleeping on duty instead of checking on the charged child sex trafficker in his jail cell just 15 feet away from them.
In a Manhattan court on Tuesday afternoon, Michael Thomas, 41, and Tova Noel, 31, pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and falsifying records in relation to Epstein's death.
Noel and Thomas were falling asleep and surfing the internet instead of performing mandatory checks on Epstein's cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on August 10, the night he died, according to an indictment.
After discovering the dead body of the high-profile inmate in his cell, the officers allegedly told a supervisor they had "messed up" because they "didn't do any checks" in the hours running up to his death.
According to the Daily Mail, Noel and Thomas, who had both self-surrendered to the FBI earlier on Tuesday, were supported by about a dozen correctional officers in the courtroom.
The two officers were each released on a $100,000 bond and ordered to surrender their firearms and travel documents.
In an orchestrated plan, their fellow officers formed a protective blockade to help shield them from photographers as they were released and left the court.
Around a dozen corrections officers who turned up in support of their two colleagues formed a protective blockade around the accused and covered their heads while shepherding them into waiting cars.
Noel's attorney, Jason E. Foy, told reporters ahead of the court appearance that his client "shouldn't be here."
Foy took issue with the judge's orders that the officers had to surrender their firearms, arguing his client had no history of violence, the crimes she is accused of are non-violent and "the world is crazy."
They were ordered not to have any contact with each other ahead of their next court appearance on November 25.
They appeared in court after it was revealed that the FBI is looking into the potential that there was 'criminal enterprise' involved in his death.
Noel and Thomas's indictment also claimed:
- They sat at their desks, browsed online and moved about the common area for a substantial portion of their shift instead of completing the required checks.
- Noel and Thomas allegedly appeared to be asleep at their desks for about two hours.
- Noel used her computer to search for furniture sales and benefit websites during her shift.
- Thomas allegedly searched online for motorcycle sales and sports news briefly at 1 am, 4 am and 6 am.
- The pair was only 15ft away from Epstein when he died.
- They found him dead when they went to serve him breakfast at 6.30 am. The last time they checked on him was at 10.30 pm the night before.
- Noel allegedly told a supervisor: "We did not complete the 3 am and 5 am rounds."
- Thomas added: "We messed up" and "I messed up, she's not to blame, we didn't do any rounds."
A woman, who has come forward with new allegations of child abuse against deceased sex offender #JeffreyEpstein, has claimed that former President #BillClinton had his own seat on the pedophile's "#LolitaExpress" private jet.— Neon Nettle (@NeonNettle) November 19, 2019
READ MORE: https://t.co/Yxb3vJqXHL
Noel and Thomas, who were assigned to Epstein's Special Housing Unit at the federal jail, are accused of failing to check on him every half-hour, as required, and of fabricating log entries to claim they had.
The two guards are accused of repeatedly signing false certifications saying that they had conducted multiple counts of inmates during their shift.
The prisoners were not checked on for eight hours, according to the indictment.
The guards discovered Epstein's body at 6.30 am.
Noel, who has worked at the jail since 2016, was working an overtime shift and had been on duty for roughly 14 hours in the unit by the time Epstein's body was found.
Her colleague, Thomas, had worked at the jail since 2007.
He was also working an overtime shift the night Epstein died.
The two guards were required to jointly conduct institutional counts at 4 pm, 10 pm, 12 am, 3 am and 5 am of the prisoners in the unit.
Both officers are required to walk the six levels of the unit to count and observe every inmate.
They then have to each fill in and sign a form with the date and time the counts were performed.
The slips are then collected and taken to the prison's control center where officers double-check them to make sure every inmate is accounted for.
In addition to the count, officers assigned to the unit Epstein was in are required to walk around every 30 minutes to ensure inmates are "alive and accounted for," according to the indictment.
They are also required to sign forms saying they carried out these 30-minute checks.
During their shift, Noel and Thomas were required to carry out five institutional counts.
Prosecutors say surveillance video shows the pair did not conduct a single count despite them logging that they did.
Noel is accused of falsely signing off that they had carried out more than 75 separate 30-minute checks.
Surveillance video showed Epstein being taken to his cell by Noel at about 7.49 pm after he met with his attorney, the indictment says.
Noel was filmed briefly walking up to the door leading to the tier where Epstein's cell was at about 10 pm.
"This was the last time anyone, including any correctional officer, walked up to, let alone entered, the only entrance to the tier in which Epstein was housed until approximately 6.30 am," the complaint says.
Noel was charged with five counts of falsifying records about how Epstein was monitored, while Thomas was charged with three counts.
Both also face a conspiracy charge.
Each count carries a maximum five-year prison term.
The charges came as Bureau of Prisons' director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer testified in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
"The FBI is involved and they are looking at criminal enterprise," Sawyer said after being questioned as to how this could happen in such a high profile case.
The charges are the first in connection with the 66-year-old's death while awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing underage teenage girls.
The two officers were placed on administrative leave while the FBI and the Justice Department's inspector general investigated the circumstances surrounding Epstein's death.
The warden of the Metropolitan Correctional Center was also reassigned.
And Epstein didn't kill himself.