The two Metropolitan Correctional Center officers who were allegedly derelict in their duties on the night convicted sex offender and accused child sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein died behind bars have been identified as Tova Noel and Michael Thomas. The indictment unsealed after their arrests on Tuesday alleged that Noel and Thomas falsified logs to “conceal their failures to perform their duties.”
The indictment said that Noel and Thomas “sat at their desk, browsed the internet, and moved around the common area” of the Special Housing Unit (SHU) where Epstein was being held, rather than conducting counts and rounds as required. The common area where their desk was located was a mere 15 feet away from Epstein’s cell.
Epstein’s cellmate was transferred out on Aug. 9 at 8 a.m; Epstein was not assigned a new cellmate after that. It is alleged that the officers did not conduct five “counts” of individual inmates nor conduct “rounds” of the SHU (on each half hour) from 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 9 until roughly 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10, when Epstein’s lifeless body was discovered:
On or about August 10, 2019, TOVA NOEL and MICHAEL THOMAS, the defendants, in dereliction of their duties as correctional officers at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (“MCC”), repeatedly failed to perform mandated counts of prisoners under their watch in the MCC’s Special Housing Unit (“SHU”). Instead, for substantial portion of their shifts, NOEL and THOMAS sat at their desk, browsed the internet, and moved around the common area of the SHU. To conceal their failure to perform their duties, NOEL and THOMAS repeatedly signed false certifications attesting to having conducted multiple counts of inmates when, in truth and in fact, they never conducted such counts. As a result of those false statements, the MCC believed prisoners in the SHU were being regularly monitored and accounted for when, in fact, as a result of the defendants’ conduct, no correctional officers conducted any count or round of the SHU from approximately 10:30 p.m. on August 9 until approximately 6:30 a.m. on August 10, at which time, as alleged herein, NOEL and THOMAS discovered the body of an MCC inmate, Jeffrey Epstein, who had committed suicide overnight while unobserved.
Noel had worked at the MCC since 2016, but worked in the SHU primarily as of Aug. 2019. She worked an overtime shift the night Epstein died.
Thomas had been employed at the MCC since 2007, but as of 2013 “regularly worked overtime shifts as a correctional officer, including in the SHU.” He also worked an overtime shift from Aug. 9 into Aug. 10.
According to the indictment, Thomas was one of the officers who responded to Epstein’s first reported suicide attempt on July 23. On Aug. 10 at around 6:33 a.m., an alarm was activated in the SHU. Noel told a supervisor, and we quote from the indictment, “Epstein hung himself.”
The defendants were each charged with six counts — five for falsifying records to say they conducted “counts” at 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Aug. 9, and at 12 a.m., 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Aug. 10. They were also charged with conspiracy.
In addition to falsifying records of “counts,” Noel and Thomas allegedly signed “more than 75 separate 30-minute round entries falsely affirmed that they had, in fact, conducted such rounds.”
The FBI is looking into the possibility of a “criminal enterprise” in their ongoing probe of Epstein’s death, U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Dr. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer confirmed during a Tuesday morning briefing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Attorney General William Barr appointed Hawk Sawyer to the position after Epstein’s death.
You can read the rest of the indictment below.
[Image via David Dee Delgado/Getty Images]