Jail guards charged

Ep­stein warders ‘sleep­ing and shop­ping on­line’ when he died

Mercury (Hobart) - - WORLD -

TWO jail guards re­spon­si­ble for mon­i­tor­ing Jef­frey Ep­stein the night he killed him­self were sleep­ing and brows­ing the in­ter­net in­stead, ac­cord­ing to an in­dict­ment charg­ing the guards with ly­ing on prison records to cover them­selves.

The grand jury in­dict­ment pro­vides a damn­ing glimpse of safety lapses in­side a high-se­cu­rity unit at the Metropoli­tan Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter in New York, where Ep­stein had been await­ing trial on sex traf­fick­ing charges.

The in­dict­ment, lean­ing in part on images from se­cu­rity cam­eras, also con­tains new de­tails re­in­forc­ing that, for all the in­trigue re­gard­ing Ep­stein and his con­nec­tions to pow­er­ful peo­ple, his death was a sui­cide and pos­si­bly pre­ventable.

“The de­fen­dants had a duty to en­sure the safety and se­cu­rity of fed­eral in­mates in their care at the Metropoli­tan Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter,” US At­tor­ney Ge­of­frey S. Ber­man said. “In­stead, they re­peat­edly failed to con­duct man­dated checks on in­mates, and lied on of­fi­cial forms to hide their dere­lic­tion.”

In­stead of mak­ing re­quired rounds ev­ery 30 min­utes, guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas sat at their desks less than five me­tres from Ep­stein’s cell, shopped on­line for fur­ni­ture and mo­tor­cy­cles, and walked around the unit’s com­mon area, the in­dict­ment said. Dur­ing one two-hour pe­riod, it said, both ap­peared to have been asleep.

Pros­e­cu­tors said se­cu­rity footage con­firmed no one en­tered the area where Ep­stein was housed on the night he died – ev­i­dence that might also dampen con­spir­acy the­o­ries that ques­tioned whether he re­ally took his own life.

A lawyer for Thomas, Mon­tell Fig­gins, said both guards are be­ing “scape­goated”.

Noel’s lawyer, Ja­son Foy, said he hoped to “reach a rea­son­able agree­ment” with the govern­ment that could avoid a trial.

Both of­fi­cers pleaded not guilty yes­ter­day and were re­leased on $100,000 bond.

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