When the most notorious inmate at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City managed to kill himself in August, his death raised more questions than answers. Jeffery Epstein, 66, purported purveyor of underage girls to some of the most powerful men on the planet, managed to hang himself in his cell not long after being removed from suicide watch.
He was awaiting trial on federal charges of operating a sex trafficking ring from 2002 to 2005 at both his New York City and Palm Beach, Florida homes.
In July, he was found on his cell floor with bruising on his neck, along with a strip of a bedsheet. He was put on a 24-hour suicide watch and later spent a week under psychological observation before the transfer to the high-security housing unit.
Oddly enough, video surveillance cameras were apparently out of order at the time of his death. While conspiracy theories abound, security video does exist that does not show any unknown party entering the area where Epstein was housed on the night he died.
As per protocol for inmates who have attempted suicide, Epstein was supposed to have a cellmate. That man had been removed from the cell the previous evening.
Now, the two guards in charge of Epstein that fateful night, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, have been indicted on charges of falsifying prison records to protect themselves. A lawyer for Thomas said that both guards were being “scapegoated” by the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Both pleaded not guilty and were released on $100,000 bond.
Sleeping and Browsing
According to the indictment, when the two guards were supposed to watch Epstein, they were either sleeping or browsing the internet. Although their desks were just 15 feet away from Epstein’s cell and were supposed to check on him every half hour, they spent their shift shopping online or sleeping. Apparently, both guards were asleep for a solid two hours. Due to staffing shortages –a chronic issue in the federal prison system –Noel and Thomas were both working overtime.
When they went to give breakfast to Epstein, they found him dead. Noel told her supervisor that the 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. mandatory checks had not been performed, as per the indictment. Thomas told the supervisor, “We messed up.”
Guards Reject Plea Offer
Both guards rejected a plea offer from prosecutors to admit they falsified prison records to show rounds had been done. Falsification of such records remains a big problem in the federal prison system.
On the same day the two guards were charged, Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer told a Senate investigating committee that the FBI was looking into whether a “criminal enterprise” played a role in Epstein’s death.
She did, however, tell the Senators that she did not know of any indication that Epstein’s demise was anything other than suicide. The New York City medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide.
There’s no question Epstein’s end was convenient for a lot of high profile people. Whether Epstein’s death was a suicide, perhaps an assisted suicide, or even more sinister remains under investigation.
Despite his notoriety, the possibility exists that Epstein died the way other despondent inmates have done, relying on the fact that the guards who were supposed to protect them simply were not doing their jobs.
Inmates have the right not to be abused. If you or a loved one has suffered mistreatment in jail or prison, you have legal options and may be entitled to compensation. Contact us at 866.836.4684 or Connect Online to learn how we can help you file a federal civil rights lawsuit.
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