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A judge approved a plea deal for the jail guards who falsified records the night Jeffrey Epstein killed himself

·3 min read
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New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Handout via REUTERS; Shayanne Gal/Business Insider
  • A letter filed by federal prosecutors stated that the two guards on duty the night Epstein died by suicide admitted to falsifying records.

  • Tova Noel and Michael Thomas are accused of failing to check on Epstein every half-hour as they were supposed to.

  • The two also struck a deal with federal prosecutors to avoid jail time, which a judge still needs to approve.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A judge approved a plea deal for Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, the two Bureau of Prisons guards assigned to Jeffrey Epstein's cell the night he died by suicide, in a court hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Noel and Thomas had been accused of sleeping and browsing the internet during an overtime shift when the two were required to perform checks on Epstein every 30 minutes. The pair falsified records on August 9 and 10, 2019, when they were supposed to be checking Epstein's cell, prosecutors alleged.

Epstein, a financier and registered sex offender, had been placed on suicide watch on July 23 after he was found semiconscious with neck injuries and was taken off the watch a week before his death.

He was found dead in his cell on the morning of 10 August 2019.

Epstein's death was ruled a suicide by the New York City medical examiner. A trove of conspiracy theories have sought to explain his death while in custody.

On Friday, the two former guards struck a deal with prosecutors and will serve no jail time, according to a letter filed by federal prosecutors.

The plea deal requires Noel and Thomas to cooperate with an investigation from the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, which appears to be examining the circumstances of Epstein's death, the judge said.

Noel and Thomas must also submit to interviews with the FBI and the US Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York, Judge Analisa Torres said. In addition to pursuing the charges against Noel and Thomas, prosecutors in the Southern District have also filed charges against Ghislaine Maxwell, an associate of Epstein who prosecutors say helped him run his sex-trafficking run and participated in sexual abuse herself.

After six months, prosecutors will move to dismiss the indictment against Noel and Thomas, the agreement says, but the Bureau of Prisons may still fire or administer another form of punishment against them.

According to the letter, the two have "admitted that they 'willfully and knowingly completed materially false count and round slips regarding required counts and rounds'" for Epstein's unit.

The two were indicted on charges of falsifying prison records in November 2019 but claimed that they carried out regular checks before Epstein was found dead in August 2019. Noel and Thomas had previously rejected a plea deal from prosecutors, who wanted them to admit to falsifying the records.

Before he died, Epstein was in custody in a high-security unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan while he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges. He had pleaded not guilty a month before his death.

This article has been updated.

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