Federal authorities have arrested Michael Thomas and Tova Noel, two of Jeffrey Epstein’s guards at the Manhattan MCC detention center in New York City, and are expected to charge the pair with falsifying records, according to a report from NBC News New York.
NBC News: Federal prosecutors have charged Michael Thomas and Tova Noel, two guards at Manhattan’s MCC prison facility, stemming from their investigation into the death of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, a senior law enforcement official says
Reported w/ @valiquettejoe
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) November 19, 2019
Kara Scannell of CNN added that both of the guards were on duty the night Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide by hanging after being left alone and unguarded in his jail cell.
NEWS: Both guards on duty the night Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide are now in FBI custody, a law enforcement official said told @MarkMorales51 The guards will be in court later this afternoon to face charges that are expected to include falsifying records, the official said.
— Kara Scannell (@KaraScannell) November 19, 2019
The FBI has been investigating Epstein’s death, though not because of persisting conspiracy theories that suggest Epstein did not hang himself, but rather died as the result of foul play. Federal prosecutors want to know why Epstein was removed from suicide watch and, subsequently, left alone, despite having attempted suicide by hanging just the week before. The FBI was also concerned that two prison guards, assigned to check on Epstein every half hour did not do so, though both guards recording checking on the accused sexual predator every 30 minutes in their official logs.
New York Magazine reported that both guards are said to have fallen asleep during their shifts, but that report has not yet been confirmed. More details are expected when the official charging document is filed with the Federal courts — and when the pair appears in court Tuesday afternoon for their arraignment.
The two guards were told last week that they could face Federal charges but they declined to take a plea bargain, according to Fox News.
“The officers on Epstein’s unit at the federal jail in New York City are suspected of failing to check on him every half-hour, as required, and of fabricating log entries to claim they had. Federal prosecutors offered the guards a plea bargain, but the AP reported Friday that the officers declined the deal,” the outlet said.
The pair, who worked for the New York Bureau of Prisons, were reportedly working overtime because of “staffing shortages” at the Metropolitan Correctional Center where Epstein was being held pending his trial for sexually assaulting and trafficking underaged girls. They were placed on administrative leave pending the possibility of arrest, Fox News said Monday.
The 66-year old money manager was found dead in his cell in early August, apparently having hung himself with strips of cloth cut from his prison bedsheet. A later autopsy confirmed Epstein’s death as suicide by hanging, but details of Epstein’s death, including that he had a broken bone in his throat near his mandible — a break that happens in only 6% of suicides — have caused questions to remain about his death.
Epstein’s brother, last week, announced that he had hired his own team of investigators and medical examiners and planned to sue New York’s Bureau of Prisons.
The Federal government has been intensely interested in Epstein’s death as well, and both the FBI and the Department of Justice have launched investigations into how such a high value prisoner could have been left alone for so long. Besides the failure of Epstein’s guards, two cameras, focused on Epstein’s cell, reportedly malfunctioned the night of his death.
Official charges are expected Tuesday afternoon. More charges may be forthcoming.