The federal prison guards tasked with monitoring Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier and convicted sex offender, the night he committed suicide have been offered a deferred prosecution deal.
Tova Noel and Michael Thomas were assigned to check inmates at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City twice an hour. But footage from the night of the suicide shows the two guards at their desks, browsing the Internet for furniture, motorcycle sales and sports news instead of monitoring Epstein in his cell where he was discovered dead on Aug. 10, 2019.
Authorities say that footage shows that the two guards were apparently sleeping for more than two hours of their shifts.
According to a court filing on Friday, the deal would allow the guards to avoid incarceration for allegedly falsifying documents to conceal that they did not make the required welfare and security checks on Epstein. Noel and Thomas would instead be subjected to supervised release, would be required to complete 100 hours of community service, and cooperate with an ongoing probe by the Justice Department's inspector general.
The deal would need to be approved by a judge, which could happen as soon as next week.
Noel and Thomas have admitted to lying on Bureau of Prisons documents about their failure to conduct counts and make rounds, according to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica Lonergan and Nicolas Roos. The guards "admitted that they 'willfully and knowingly completed materially false count and round slips regarding required counts and rounds' " in the housing unit where Epstein was being held, the prosecutors said in the filing.
Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and an outspoken critic of the Justice Department's handling of Epstein's case, called the deal "unacceptable" and said the public deserves to see a report detailing the prison agency's failures.