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US prosecutors have dropped charges against the two correctional officers on duty the night Jeffrey Epstein killed himself on their watch in August 2019 while he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
The officers, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, had allegedly falsified government records, indicating that they had made their rounds every 30 minutes to check on inmates when they had not, and instead had fallen asleep on the job, according to an indictment.
Earlier this year, the two officers entered into a deferred prosecution agreement – contingent on completing community service and good behavior.
The justice department is expected to release a report on Epstein’s suicide next year. A Bureau of Prisons report obtained by news outlets in December showed that Epstein had previously attempted suicide in late July 2019, but had told an examining psychologist: “I have no interest in killing myself.”
The records, first obtained by the New York Times, also revealed that an inmate at the facility had emailed prison administrators, stating: “Jeffrey Epstein definitely killed himself. Any conspiracy theories to the contrary are ridiculous.”
“He wanted to kill himself and seized the opportunity when it was available,” the inmate added.
Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and long-term associate of Epstein, was found guilty this week of facilitating the abuse of underage girls at the hands of the disgraced financier.
New York City’s chief medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide, but members of his family claimed his injuries indicated homicide.
The Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan, the grim detention center where Epstein was held, had long suffered staff shortages. Thomas and Noel had done several shifts of over time that week when Epstein was found dead early on August 10 2019.
A video obtained from the jail’s internal video surveillance system showed that no one visited the tier where Epstein was being held between 10.30pm the previous evening until 6.30am when they went in to give him breakfast and found him dead.
The two officers later claimed they were being scapegoated for institutional failures. “Unfortunately, the decisions that led to the death of Mr. Epstein were not only because of what my client did or did not do,” Montell Figgins, a lawyer for Thomas, told the Times “It was because of a system that failed completely.”
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