Who are Tova Noel and Michael Thomas? Prison guards who slept through Epstein's suicide strike no-jail deal
'We messed up... we didn’t do any rounds,' Noel and Thomas told their supervisor the morning of Epstein's death
Two federal jail guards, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas who fell asleep while monitoring sex offender, Jeffery Epstein the night of his suicide on August 10, 2019, have reached a no-jail plea deal with prosecutors. The guards took the terms 'guards down' literally, as they snored away the night at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, Manhattan, while Epstein killed himself in his cell and then went on to lie about what they were doing.
The agreement with Noel and Thomas was disclosed in a letter to a judge overseeing their case. “After a thorough investigation, and based on the facts of this case and the personal circumstances of the defendants, the Government has determined that the interests of justice will best be served by deferring prosecution,” the prosecutors wrote. According to a court filing on Friday, May 21, the deal would allow the guards to avoid incarceration for allegedly falsifying documents to conceal that they did not make the required welfare and security checks on Epstein. The guards will get supervised release and community service in exchange for their agreement to cooperate with a Justice Department Inspector General review of Epstein’s lockup death.
Epstein was a billionaire financier who was held without bail on serious charges of sex trafficking and using his fortune to “create a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit.” Federal prosecutors revealed that the FBI found nude photos of girls in a raid of Epstein’s Manhattan mansion after he was arrested at a New Jersey airport. “The defendant, a registered sex offender, is not reformed, he is not chastened, he is not repentant. Rather, he is a continuing danger to the community and an individual who faces devastating evidence supporting deeply serious charges, " prosecutors wrote in a memo seeking to have Epstein jailed until trial. The financer took his own life in August 2019 in his jail cell.
What happened on that night of August 9 2019?
Epstein was placed in the lockup of the Special Housing Unit at the Manhattan Correctional Center at the lockup for his own safety. He was put on suicide watch after he tried to kill himself once before and was found on the floor of his cell with a strip of bedsheet around his neck. He was taken off suicide watch and moved back to the SHU, in a cell close to the guards’ desk, after daily psychiatric evaluations for about three weeks.
The jail guards, Noel and Thomas were on mandatory overtime owing to staffing issues on the night of Epstein's suicide. They were supposed to check on Epstein and other inmates every 30 minutes but instead, chose to take a nap and were browsing for furniture, motorcycle sales and sports news. And then, they falsified reports to cover up their tracks.
“For a period of approximately two hours, Noel and Thomas sat at their desk without moving, and appeared to have been asleep,” the indictment said. When Epstein was found dead in his jail cell on the morning of August 10, Thomas allegedly told a responding supervisor, “Epstein hung himself. We messed up... we didn’t do any rounds,” according to the indictment. The guards have "admitted that they 'willfully and knowingly completed materially false count and round slips regarding required counts and rounds' " in the housing unit where Epstein was being held, the prosecutors said in the latest filing.
In November 2019, after the two Bureau of Prisons employees were indicted, their attorneys tossed the idea that they were being made merely a scapegoat by the justice system, as it was humiliated over its incompetency in keeping the high-profile prisoner safe.
In the events following the suicide, the warden at the jail was reassigned and the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons was removed. Although numerous conspiracy theories surrounded Epstein’s death, the New York City Medical Examiner deemed it a suicide by hanging.
The suspicious circumstances surrounding the 66-year-old's sudden demise has everyone asking how a high-profile prison inmate under suicide watch was able to kill himself? Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the deal "unacceptable" and said the public deserves to see a report detailing the prison agency's failures.