NEW YORK (AP) – A judge on Monday ordered charges dropped against two Prison Bureau guards who admitted to tampering with records after Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide in prison more than two years ago.
The guards – Tova Noel and Michael Thomas – had agreed to postpone prosecution agreements last May that required them to admit guilt, with the understanding that the charges in a federal indictment would be dismissed if they followed their rules. agreement for six months. They were also required to do 100 hours of community service.
Prosecutors last week called for the charges to be dropped and Judge Analisa Torres ordered a dismissal on Monday.
Epstein, 66, was awaiting trial for sex trafficking when he committed suicide in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in August 2019.
The death, major discomfort at the Bureau of Prisons, sparked a scrutiny of operations in the federal prison adjacent to two major federal courthouses in lower Manhattan. It is currently closed.
In court documents, prosecutors said Noel and Thomas were at their office just 4.5 meters (15 feet) from Epstein’s cell while shopping for furniture and motorcycles online and failed to complete the required rounds every 30 minutes. The indictment alleged that the two appeared to have fallen asleep for a period of two hours.
Their lawyers blamed their drowsiness on the understaffing that forced them to work excessive overtime.
In a statement, lawyer Jason Foy said his client Noel had provided the government with “a truthful glimpse into the toxic culture, poor training, staff shortages and dysfunctional management of the now closed Metropolitan Correctional Center. . In return for Ms. Noel’s cooperation, all charges against her were dropped.
He added: “The shortcomings and mistakes made by Ms. Noel were the result of her inexperience, lack of proper and sufficient training, and being put in a position of failure by MCC management and the Bureau. prisons.
Foy said Noel is now facing administrative proceedings with the Bureau of Prisons.
An attorney for Michael Thomas did not immediately comment.
Epstein’s death sparked widespread anger that he would not have to answer the allegations. Last week, his former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, was convicted in Manhattan federal court charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy after a month-long trial.
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