Two prison guards who slept while sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide planned to say that falsifying documents was common at the federal detention facility before striking a deal with federal prosecutors.
Tova Noel and Michael Thomas last week avoided a trial and possible jail time in exchange for their cooperation and community service.
“We were going to put the whole system on trial,” Montell Figgins, a lawyer for Thomas told the New York Daily News.
The Daily News reported Noel and Thomas planned to admit they falsified paperwork certifying they had conducted required rounds and inmate head counts in the hours before multimillionaire sex offender Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on Aug. 10, 2019.
Sources offered the Daily News possible reasons the feds decided not to prosecute the two guards, saying that falsification of documents is common at the jail and throughout the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
In fact, falsely filling out paperwork was “closer to a norm than an anomaly” in federal lockups, according to one source.
Tyrone Covington, a correctional officer who serves as union rep at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, said an inefficient number of guards results in some officers bending rules.
“These facilities are severely understaffed. You have to figure out what you’re going to do,” said Covington, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3148.
“There are some decisions sometimes you have to make that are just not following through with the policy. The manpower doesn’t allow you to do it.”
Covington said that supervisors also are supposed to file paperwork certifying they made rounds.
“If you’re going to charge [Noel and Thomas], you have to charge the whole system. Because the whole system is broken,” he said.
Noel, 32, and Thomas, 43, were caught on camera sleeping on the job for two hours the night Epstein hanged himself while awaiting trial for trafficking of minors, according to prosecutors.
A Daily News source said a supervisor at the jail’s control center had access to that camera footage and could have seen the guards sleeping or otherwise failing to do their jobs.
Prosecutors said Epstein went unmonitored for eight hours before being found dead in his cell.
Noel and Thomas, as part of their agreement, will meet with the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, which is investigating Epstein’s death.
Mark Epstein, Jeffrey Epstein’s brother, said he remained bothered by “inconsistencies” in the government’s account of the suicide.
Jeffrey Epstein could have died by strangulation, not suicide by hanging, according to a prominent forensic pathologist hired by Mark Epstein.
“Since Michael Thomas found my brother, I want to know what position my brother was in? How did he find him?” Mark Epstein said.
Following Jeffrey Epstein’s death, then-Attorney General William Barr described the dysfunction at the Metropolitan Correctional Center as “a perfect storm of screwups.”
Since then, the jail has continued to face issues.
A gun was smuggled into the facility in February 2020. This past January, the warden who took over following Epstein’s suicide resigned after being criticized for an inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In April, Manhattan Federal Judge Colleen McMahon said the Metropolitan Correctional Center and a Brooklyn federal jail were “run by morons.”
Amid all the negative news, the union is pushing for Noel and Thomas to return to their jobs and recover lost wages.
“Local 3148 asks the federal Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice to do right by these employees and make them whole,” Covington told the Daily News.
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