Two federal jail guards who failed to monitor Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself and then lied about what they were doing have struck a no-jail plea deal with prosecutors.
The agreement with Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, who literally fell asleep on the job at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, was disclosed in a letter to the judge overseeing their case.
“After a thorough investigation, and based on the facts of this case and the personal circumstances of the defendants, the Government has determined that the interests of justice will best be served by deferring prosecution,” prosecutors wrote.
The pair will get supervised release and community service in exchange for their agreement to cooperate with a Justice Department Inspector General review of Epstein’s jailhouse death.
The financier was being held without bail on sex trafficking charges when, authorities found, he took his own life in August 2019.
Noel and Thomas—who were on mandatory overtime because of staffing issues—were supposed to check on Epstein and other inmates every 30 minutes but instead napped and shopped online. Then, prosecutors say, they falsified records to cover up the lapse.
After the two Bureau of Prisons employees were indicted in November 2019, their attorneys suggested they were being scapegoated by the justice system, which was humiliated that it could not keep the high-profile prisoner safe.
Epstein’s death unleashed conspiracy theories that persist to this day, but the New York City Medical Examiner deemed it a suicide by hanging.
The financier was placed in the Special Housing Unit at the lockup for his own safety—and then put on suicide watch after being found on the floor of his cell with a strip of bedsheet around his neck.
After daily psychiatric evaluations for about three week, he was taken off suicide watch and moved back to the SHU, in a cell close to the guards’ desk so he could be monitored.
In the wake of the suicide, the warden at the jail was reassigned and the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons was removed.