Judge approves deal for Jeffrey Epstein’s prison guards who ‘napped and browsed the internet’ instead of monitoring him the night he was killed to avoid jail in exchange for cooperating in federal probe of his death

  • Michael Thomas and Tova Noel, two federal jail guards responsible for monitoring Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself, will not go to prison
  • The pair admitted they falsified records under a deal with federal prosecutors, which was approved by a federal judge on Tuesday
  • In the hours before Epstein’s death, Noel shopped online for furniture while Thomas surfed the internet for sports news and motorcycle sales
  • Both guards also appeared to have fallen asleep for about two hours
  • Epstein, the financier and registered sex offender, died at age 66 in August 2019
  • He was found hanging in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Manhattan

The two federal prison guards who admitted they were sleeping and browsing the internet instead of watching Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself in his New York jail cell have avoided time behind bars in exchange for their cooperation and community service. 

A federal judge approved the pre-arranged deal on Tuesday.  

The prison workers, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, will have to cooperate with the federal investigation into Epstein’s death, complete 100 hours of community service and be subject to supervised release for six months. 

‘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 agreement says. 

Noel and Thomas were charged with lying on prison records to make it seem as though they had made required checks on the billionaire sex offender before he was found in his cell in August 2019. 


Michael Thomas and Tova Noel, two federal jail guards responsible for monitoring Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself will not go to prison after making a deal with prosecutors 

Michael Thomas, a federal jail guard responsible for monitoring Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself has admitted he falsified records but will not face any time behind bars

An artist’s sketch created inside the courtroom, where cameras were banned. Pictured in November 2019

For eight hours, between 10.30pm on August 9 and 6.30am on August 10, 2019, no one checked on Epstein, who was in his cell just 15 feet from the prison guards’ desk. 

Epstein, the financier and registered sex offender, was found hanging in his jail cell in August 2019 

New York City’s medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide. 

The two ‘willfully and knowingly completed materially false count and round slips regarding required counts and rounds in the Special Housing Unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center,’ where Epstein was being held. 

Prosecutors alleged that Noel and Thomas sat at their desks, shopped online for furniture and motorcycles, and walked around the unit’s common area instead of making required rounds every 30 minutes.

During one two-hour period, both appeared to have been asleep, according to the indictment filed against them. 

Noel and Thomas, who were assigned to Epstein’s Special Housing Unit at the federal jail, failed to check on him every half-hour, as required, and fabricated log entries that claimed they had. 

The two guards were required to jointly conduct institutional counts at 4pm, 10pm, 12am, 3am and 5am of the prisoners in the unit. They were supposed to walk the six levels of the unit to count every inmate. 

Tova Noel, center in yellow blouse, a second federal jail guard responsible for monitoring Epstein also cut a deal with federal prosecutors, authorities said on Friday

Pictures of the interior of Jeffrey Epstein’s jail cell are seen with bedding and prison clothing strewn throughout

Multiple nooses fashioned from the orange bedding were found on the floor of Epstein’s cell

Tova Noel, the female prison guard accused of neglecting her duties and then falsifying records with a colleague on the night that convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide was pictured exclusively by DailyMail.com in November 2019, above

How Epstein guards ignored their duty to check on him and browsed the internet and took naps instead

  • Tova Noel and Michael Thomas sat at their desks, browsed online and moved about the common area for a substantial portion of their shift instead of completing the required checks.
  • Noel and Thomas also appeared to be asleep at their desks for about two hours
  • Noel used her computer to search for furniture sales and benefit websites during her shift
  • Thomas searched online for motorcycle sales and sports news briefly at 1am, 4am and 6am
  • The pair were only 15ft away from Epstein when he died
  • They found him dead when they went to serve him breakfast at 6.30am
  • The last time they had checked on him was at 10.30pm the night before
  • Noel told a supervisor: ‘We did not complete the 3am and 5am rounds’.
  • Thomas added: ‘We messed up’ and ‘I messed up, she’s not to blame, we didn’t do any rounds’

In addition to that count, officers assigned to the unit Epstein was in were required to walk around every 30 minutes to ensure inmates are ‘alive and accounted for’, according to the indictment. 

The other guard was working mandatory overtime, meaning a second eight-hour shift of the day. 

Prosecutors said surveillance video showed the pair did not conduct a single count despite them logging that they did. 

Both officers who were guarding Epstein were working overtime because of staffing shortages. 

One of the guards, who did not primarily work as a correctional officer, was working a fifth straight day of overtime. 

Before they were arrested, both officers had declined a plea deal with federal prosecutors. 

Noel had began her employment with the Bureau of Prisons as a corrections officer at the Metropolitan Corrections Center in June 2018.  

A veteran, she spent six years in the National Guard. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and a Minor in Law from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Prior to joining the federal Bureau of Prisons, she was an assistant mail handler for the US Postal Service for around a year. 

Thomas began working with the Bureau of Prisons on April 1, 2007 and had held his current position as material handler supervisor at Metropolitan Correctional Center since April 20, 2014. 

Epstein’s death and the revelation that he was able to kill himself while behind bars at one of the most secure jails in America was a major embarrassment for the Bureau of Prisons and cast a spotlight on the agency, which has also been besieged by serious misconduct in recent years.

Staffing shortages at the agency are so severe that guards often work overtime day after day or are forced to work mandatory double shifts.

Violence leads to regular lockdowns at federal prison compounds across the U.S. And a congressional report released in 2019 found that ‘bad behavior is ignored or covered up on a regular basis.’

The falsification of records has been a problem throughout the federal prison system. 

Union officials have long argued that the reduction of staff is putting both guards and inmates in danger, but they´ve faced an uphill battle getting attention.


The two prison guards – Tova Noel, 31, (right) and Michael Thomas, 41, (left) – who were responsible for checking in on Epstein the night he hanged himself were charged with falsifying records and conspiracy to which they had initially pled not guilty

The two guards were allegedly shopping online for furniture and napping instead of checking on the millionaire pedophile in his jail cell just 15 feet away from them. Pictured above is the gate that separated the guards from the hallway where Epstein’s cell was

After they discovered Epstein dead, the officers allegedly told a supervisor they had ‘messed up’ and ‘didn’t do any checks’ in the hours before he killed himself

Epstein was found hanging in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, pictured, in downtown Manhattan

The body of Jeffrey Epstein is brought out by medical examiners at the lower Manhattan hospital in New York and taken to the Medical Examiners office. Pictured in August 2019

The procedures that should’ve been followed in Epstein’s jail unit:  

The two guards were required to jointly conduct institutional counts at 4pm, 10pm, 12am, 3am and 5am of the prisoners in the unit.

Both officers are required to walk the six levels of the unit to count and observe every inmate.

They then have to each fill in and sign a form with the date and time the counts were performed.

The slips are then collected and taken to the prison’s control center where officers double check them to make sure every inmate is accounted for. 

In addition to the count, officers assigned to the unit Epstein was in are required to walk around every 30 minutes to ensure inmates are ‘alive and accounted for’, according to the indictment. 

They are also required to sign forms saying they carried out these 30-minute checks. 

In total, the two guards were required to carry out five institutional counts. 

Prosecutors said surveillance video shows the officers did not conduct a single count despite them logging that they did.

They were also accused of falsely signing off that they had carried out more than 75 separate 30-minute checks to which the pair have since admitted.

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