Federal law enforcement officials have announced charges against two U.S. Bureau of Prisons employees reportedly responsible for keeping watch over wealthy financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in the hours leading up to his death.
The employees were expected to be taken into custody Tuesday on charges relating to alleged dereliction of duty on the night of Epstein‘s death at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, The New York Times reported.
According to a Department of Justice news release, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas are charged with falsifying official documents to “defraud the United States by impairing the lawful functions” of the MCC and bury workplace improprieties that may have indirectly resulted in Epstein’s death.
“The defendants had a duty to ensure the safety and security of federal inmates in their care at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement.
Correctional officers charged with falsifying records on August 9th and 10th at the Metropolitan Correctional Center https://t.co/XqAiAMqYW7
— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) November 19, 2019
“Instead, they repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates, and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction,” he said.
According to The Times, Noel and Thomas were fingered in a follow-up investigation into the circumstances of Epstein’s death.
That investigation found they had neglected their responsibilities, sitting at their desks, “browsing the internet” and disregarding directives to check up on the wealthy financier’s high-security cell once every 30 minutes, Berman’s office wrote.
Epstein, 66, died in his cell this past August, having pleaded not guilty on a slew of charges including sex trafficking and criminal conspiracy.
According to Reuters, at least 16 women had come forward with allegations Epstein had sexually abused them.
Many of these women were underage at the time of the alleged abuses.
Several reports have said world leaders personally affiliated with the well-connected money manager may have been aware of — or even been party to — those abuses.
Although the official autopsy ruled the convicted sex offender’s death a suicide by hanging, a number of coroners have since argued that damage to Epstein’s neck was consistent with damage typically found in the event of homicide by strangulation.
Initial reports also said the FBI found two cameras outside Epstein’s cell to be faulty, resulting in “unusable” footage at the presumed time of death.
Each facing one count of attempting to defraud the federal government, Noel and Thomas also respectively face five and three counts of making false records.
The two were expected to be arraigned in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Tuesday afternoon.
They face a maximum of five years in prison for each individual count against them, totaling a potential 30 years behind bars for Noel and 20 for Thomas.
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