Sidelining a long-awaited criminal trial that would have renewed scrutiny upon a jailhouse’s most fateful security lapse, a federal judge confirmed a deal on Tuesday that allowed two guards to skate prosecution for falsifying paperwork on the night of Jeffrey Epstein’s death nearly two years ago.
Indicted in November 2019, Metropolitan Correctional Center guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas each faced charges of falsifying records and conspiracy for their allegedly failing to perform numerous jail-wide checks on the night of Aug. 9, 2019 and early morning of Aug. 10, 2019.
Epstein died by hanging in the interim under circumstances later ruled a suicide, and the prosecution of two guards that night promised fresh scrutiny upon the jailhouse’s security lapses.
On May 21, prosecutors notified U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres that the parties struck a deal that would avert an eventual trial.
“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 in this District,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Lonergan wrote in a two-page letter on Friday.
The judge confirmed the agreement on Tuesday, following a brief, 15-minute hearing where she confirmed its details with the parties.
The agreement calls for Noel and Thomas to cooperate in active Justice Department inspector general investigation and “complete 100 hours of community service, preferably in an area related to the criminal justice system.”
Under the deal, Noel and Thomas agreed that they “willfully and knowingly completed materially false count and round slips regarding required counts and rounds in the Special Housing Unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center” on that date, prosecutors noted.
Questioned about this term by Judge Torres on Tuesday afternoon, Noel and Thomas each agreed that was the case.
In a press release, Noel’s lawyer Jason Foy expressed gratitude on behalf of his client.
“Ms. Noel is extremely grateful that we were able to convince the government and the court that the
termination of criminal prosecution through a deferred prosecution agreement is in the interests of justice,” Foy wrote in a statement. “When the conditions set forth in the deferred prosecution agreement are met, all criminal charges against Ms. Noel will be dismissed. Securing a resolution that eliminates both imprisonment and a criminal conviction is the favorable outcome that Ms. Noel prayed for since her arrest.”
Foy added that his client “will not publicly comment on the facts and circumstances related to this case until the dismissal of all charges becomes final” in six months.
Thomas’s counsel Montell Figgins also expressed his client’s relief.
“Mr. Thomas is very happy to put this case behind him,” Figgins wrote. “He is very pleased that this case may be dismissed in six months provided he meet certain conditions including 100 hours of community service.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York released the non-prosecution agreements shortly following the hearing.
“Nothing in this Agreement shall be interpreted to preclude the BOP or the DOJ-OIG from taking any administrative action against you, including suspension or termination of employment, based on the facts alleged in the indictment, the facts identified in the course of the investigation that led to the Indictment, or your own statements to the DOJ-OIG or any other law enforcement entity,” both agreements state. Nothing in this Agreement shall be interpreted to require the BOP or the DOJ-OIG to delay any administrative action until after the expiration of the period of deferment contemplated by this agreement. You agree that a copy of this Agreement, including your admission and acceptance of responsibility, shall be provided to the BOP.”
Read the deferred prosecution agreements below:
Read the government memo disclosing the agreements below:
[Image of Jeffrey Epstein via Mugshot, Image of prison via David Dee Delgado/Getty Images]
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