A judge ordered charges dropped against two federal Bureau of Prisons guards who admitted falsifying records after Jeffrey Epstein took his own life in jail over two years ago, the Associated Press reports. The guards, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, had agreed to deferred prosecution deals that required them to admit their guilt with the understanding that charges in a federal indictment would be dismissed if they followed the agreement for six months. They also were required to do 100 hours of community service. Judge Analisa Torres ordered the dismissal Monday on the recommendation of prosecutors. Epstein, 66, was awaiting a sex trafficking trial when he committed suicide in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in August 2019. The death, a major embarrassment to the Bureau of Prisons, touched off intense scrutiny of operations at the federal jail adjacent to two large federal courthouses in lower Manhattan.
Prosecutors said Noel and Thomas were at their desks just 15 feet from Epstein’s cell as they shopped online for furniture and motorcycles and failed to make required rounds every 30 minutes. The indictment alleged that both appeared to have fallen asleep for a two-hour stretch. Their lawyers blamed their sleepiness on staff shortages that caused them to work excessive overtime. Attorney Jason Foy said that Noel, his client, had provided the government with “truthful insight into the toxic culture, subpar training, staffing shortages, and dysfunctional management of the now-closed Metropolitan Correctional Center. In exchange for Ms. Noel’s cooperation, all charges against her were dismissed.”