Published: Tue, November 19, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

2 prison guards face federal charges related to Jeffrey Epstein’s death

2 prison guards face federal charges related to Jeffrey Epstein’s death

The criminal charges against Epstein were dropped after his death, though authorities are still investigating potential co-conspirators.

Epstein's suicide exposed what the prison's employee union has said are chronically overworked and short-staffed conditions at the Metropolitan Correction Center, including forced overtime and officers reassigned to guard duty.

A grand jury indictment made public Tuesday accused guards Toval Noel and Michael Thomas of failing to perform checks on Epstein every half hour, as required, and of fabricating log entries to show they had.

The Associated Press reported Friday that federal prosecutors had offered a plea deal to two officers responsible for guarding Epstein the night of his death, but the officers declined the offer. Ben Sasse, who has urged thorough reviews of the matter, said "h$3 eads needed to roll the day Jeffrey Epstein died". The people familiar with the matter insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

The guards, who were working overtime because of staffing shortages when Epstein's body was found, were placed on administrative leave while the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department's inspector general investigate.

The nation's top prison administrator, Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, told the committee that FBI agents investigating Jeffrey Epstein's death are looking at the possibility that a "criminal enterprise" played a role in his suicide.

Though a medical examiner ruled Epstein's death as a suicide, the financier's brother, Mark, hired a forensic pathologist who determined that the hanging death was more consistent with homicidal strangulation than it was with typical suicide cases. Epstein "had committed suicide overnight while unobserved", according to the indictment.

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Those allegations are still being pursued even after his death.

Epstein, a wealthy financier, had pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing dozens of girls, some as young as 14.

New York-born Epstein worked as a teacher before moving into finance. After that, Epstein was placed on suicide watch for about a week but then was taken off and returned to special detention unit where inmates receive extra supervision, including being checked in on once every 30 minutes.

The falsification of records has been a problem throughout the federal prison system, which has been plagued for years by systematic failures, from massive staffing shortages to chronic violence.

"What happened to Jeffrey Epstein is an enormous black eye for the BOP", Cruz said, using the acronym for the Bureau of Prisons, "and yet he died in federal custody".

Hawk Sawyer declined to discuss the findings of the ongoing Federal Bureau of Investigation and inspector general reviews of the death, and did not comment on reports that prison staffers had been criminally charged in NY this week.

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