May 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Prison guards admit to falsifying records about night of Jeffrey Epstein's death

Photo of a police officer walking outside the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Jeffrey Epstein has been held since his arrest, in New York, U.S.
The Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Jeffrey Epstein was held after his arrest. Photo: Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pair of Bureau of Prisons workers who guarded Jeffrey Epstein the night he died by suicide in prison have admitted to falsifying records about their routines that night, AP reports.

Why it matters: Epstein, the millionaire sex offender who was arrested on sex trafficking charges in 2019, died despite his detention in one of the most secure jails in America. It was a "major embarrassment for the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and cast a spotlight on the agency, which has also been besieged by serious misconduct in recent years," AP writes.

Details: Tova Noel and Michael Thomas were accused of sleeping and browsing on the internet instead of making their required rounds every 30 minutes during the eight-hour period. Epstein's cell was 15 feet from the guards when he killed himself in August 2019.

  • The two have entered an agreement with prosecutors and will avoid jail time. They will instead be subjected to supervised release and 100 hours of community service. They must also cooperate with the Justice Department in an ongoing probe.
    • A judge will need to approve the deal, which could come as soon as next week, per AP.
  • Both officers were working overtime that night because of longtime shortages. One was on a fifth consecutive shift of overtime, according to AP.

The big picture: The case has reignited debate over the issues plaguing the federal prison system. Union officials maintain that staff shortages put both guards and inmates at risk.

  • A congressional report released in 2019 found that senior BOP officials' "bad behavior is ignored or covered up on a regular basis," the New York Times reports.
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