Federal prosecutors dropped all charges against a pair of Manhattan federal corrections officers accused of sleeping on the job when sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide inside his prison cell.
Tova Noel and Michael Thomas were charged with sleeping and shopping online while working in the hours before Epstein was found dead in August 2019 at the since-shuttered Metropolitan Correctional Facility, where the inmate was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
In addition, authorities alleged the two falsified prison records afterward to make it appear they made the mandated checks on Epstein in the hours before his lifeless body was discovered inside the high-security unit where the financier was housed.
A Dec. 13 order signed by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams approved the decision, made public Friday in an online database.
According to prosecutors, Noel and Thomas were sitting at their desks just 15 feet from Epstein’s cell as they surfed the web for motorcycles and furniture.
During one two-hour period, both appeared to be napping, according to the indictment filed against them — while the pair were actually required to make rounds of the unit every 30 minutes.
Epstein, who was placed on suicide watch a month earlier after he was found on the floor of his cell with a bed sheet around his neck, was moved back to a regular cell just 10 days before his death.
The news comes two days after Epstein’s longtime sidekick Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted on federal charges of sex-trafficking and conspiracy.
The guards had agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement this past May, with the pair agreeing to complete 100 hours of community service, exhibit good behavior and cooperate with an ongoing probe by the Justice Department.
The federal pretrial services office notified Manhattan federal prosecutors that both defendants complied with the terms of the agreement before the cutoff date of Nov. 20.
“The filing of this (document) will dispose of this case with regard to Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, the defendants,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Roos wrote in court papers.
But federal officials initially took a hard line against the pair over their failure to properly monitor the high-profile inmate.
“The defendants had a duty to ensure the safety and security of federal inmates in their care at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,” said then-U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “Instead, they repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates, and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction.”
When the pair were charged in November 2019, prosecutors said security footage confirmed no guards were spotted inside where Epstein was behind bars on the night of his suicide.
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