Two federal Bureau of Prison guards charged with watching over suspected sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein the night he died will not face any jail time after pleading guilty to falsifying records and “neglecting their duties,” a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Officers Tova Noel and Michael Thomas admitted they slept and surfed the Internet the night Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges in August 2019, USA Today reported.
The pair entered into deferred prosecution agreements where they admitted falsifying documents to show that they had completed patrols of the cells.
According to the report, U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres held a virtual hearing and decided that the officers will serve six months of supervised release and complete 100 hours of community service, which, if satisfied, will mean the criminal charges against them will be dropped.
“This offers you a chance to avoid a criminal conviction,” Torres said. “I trust you will take full advantage of the opportunity.”
Prosecutors issued a letter to the judge last week that said the agreements would allow that “the interests of justice will best be served by deferring prosecution in this District.”
A surveillance video at the prison showed the officers not conducting five required inmate checks between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. between Aug. 9-10, 2019.
The video did allegedly show the officers asleep at their desks during the night, the report said.
Federal officers arrested Epstein, a well-known financier with associations to many powerful and famous people, on July 6, 2019, for paying teenage girls for sex and then using them to recruit others between 2002-2005, according to a Time story in 2019.
According to the story, Epstein, 66 at the time of his arrest, abused his victims at homes in New York and Palm Beach, Florida during the period.
“Moreover, and in order to maintain and increase his supply of victims, Epstein also paid certain of his victims to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused by Epstein,” prosecutors wrote in the July 8 indictment. “In this way, Epstein created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit in locations including New York and Palm Beach.”
According to the report, Epstein had previously entered a plea deal in 2008 for sexually abusing underage girls that kept him out of federal prison.
The mysterious nature surrounding his suicide fueled speculation that he was murdered in his cell to avoid a public trial, but no evidence supporting that assertion has come to light.
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