Federal prosecutors drop case against Epstein jail guards

Tova Noel and Michael Thomas completed terms of deferred prosecution agreement after admitting to falsifying records the night Epstein killed himself

Alex Woodward
New York
Friday 31 December 2021 00:00 GMT
Ghislaine Maxwell team will appeal guilty verdict, says attorney

Federal prosecutors have decided to end their criminal case against two jail guards who previously admitted to falsifying records the night Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his cell as he awaited trial on federal sex trafficking charges.

In a filing in US district court in New York, US attorneys have signalled they are abandoning the prosecution of Tova Noel and Michael Thomas after their completion of a six-month deferred prosecution agreement, which expired in November.

The document was signed by prosecutors on 13 December. It did not appear on the public docket until 30 December, one day after the conviction of Epstein’s longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell, who was charged with recruiting and grooming teenage girls for sexual abuse by Epstein.

She was found guilty on five of six federal sex trafficking charges, including sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy. She faces up to 65 years in prison.

Epstein was found hanging in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on 10 August, 2019 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking. New York City’s medical examiner determined his death a suicide.

He faced up to 45 years in prison.

The Federal Bureau of Prison employees were tasked with watching over the financier that night in the federal detention centre; prosecutors accused them of sleeping on the job and browsing the internet, then falsifying records that they monitored Epstein’s cell every 30 minutes.

Noel and Thomas pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

After admitting to “willfully and knowingly completed materially false” records on the night Epstein killed himself, the guards entered a deferred prosecution agreement in May requiring that Noel and Thomas complete 100 hours of community service and cooperate with federal investigators probing Epstein’s death, according to a letter from federal prosecutors.

In the filing made public on Thursday, US Attorneys for the Southern District of New York said the pair have complied with the terms of the agreement and that the period of deferral expired on 20 November.

“Securing a resolution that eliminates both imprisonment and a criminal conviction is the favorable outcome that Ms Noel prayed for since her arrest,” attorney Jason Foy said in a statement obtained by Law & Crime.

In August, the government announced plans to close the Metropolitan Correctional Center “at least temporarily” following security and infrastructure issues that have plagued the facility.

An investigation from the inspector general’s office at the US Department of Justice following Epstein’s death is not complete, though an interim report pointed to ongoing “inadequacies” within the security camera systems at the Bureau’s facilities.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in