Federal correctional officers Tova Noel, 31, and Michael Thomas, 41, were each charged with “one count of conspiring to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the MCC, and to make false records, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. NOEL is also charged with five counts of making false records, and THOMAS is also charged with three counts of making false records, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison,” according to new court documents from the United States District Court.
Both Noel and Thomas surrounded to police this Tuesday, November 19. The crimes they are accused of allegedly took place on August 9 and 10. Readers know Epstein was found unconscious in his prison cell on August 10.
In a press release, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said, “As alleged, the defendants had a duty to ensure the safety and security of federal inmates in their care at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Instead, they repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates, and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction.”
DOJ OIG Special Agent in Charge Guido Modano said correctional officers swear on oath to carry out their duties and are responsible for ensuring the safety of the prisons and their inmates.
“Those who shirk their duties but falsely state they have completed them place the institution, fellow employees, inmates, and the public at risk,” he added.
According to the indictment filed this Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, the charged prison guards “repeatedly failed to complete mandated counts of prisoners under their watch in the MCC’s Special Housing Unit,” instead, Noel and Thomas “sat at their desk, browsed the internet, and moved around the common area of the SHU. To conceal their failure to perform their duties.”
The federal correctional officers — who are meant to check on inmates every 30 minutes and report their behavior — also “repeatedly signed false certifications attesting to having conducted multiple counts of inmates that they did not do.”
Due to their failure to complete their duties, prisoners in the SHU — Epstein included — were not checked on by officers from approximately 10:30 p.m. on August 9 until approximately 6:30 a.m. on August 10, “at which time, Noel and Thomas discovered the body of MCC inmate Jeffrey Epstein, who had committed suicide overnight while unobserved.”
Radar readers know that while Epstein’s death was confirmed a suicide by hanging, many people firmly believed he was targeted and killed. At the time of his death, the shamed financier was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Among other things, he was accused of running an underage sex trafficking scheme and hiring a sex recruiter to provide him with an endless supply of young lovers.
On July 23, 2019, Epstein was transferred to suicide watch and then psychological observation after he allegedly tried to take his own life. He was also moved to the cell closest to the correctional officers’ desk.
Noel and Thomas have not yet entered their pleas. A judge will decide their sentences.
The case — which was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General, the FBI, and the New York City Police Department — is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. It has been assigned to Southern District of New York U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rebekah Donaleski and Nicolas Roos are in charge of the prosecution.