Two federal workers who were on duty the night Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan jail were named Tuesday on federal charges related to their alleged failure to check on him, the New York Times reports.
The two federal Bureau of Prisons employees, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, were expected to appear in United States District Court in Manhattan. The charges would be the first to arise from a criminal inquiry into the death of Epstein, who hanged himself at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
The workers came under scrutiny because they were responsible for monitoring the high-security unit where Epstein, the disgraced financier who had previously been convicted of sex crimes, was being held. Rather than checking on Epstein every half-hour as they were supposed to, the workers allegedly fell asleep for hours and falsified records to cover up what they had done.
An indictment said Noel and Thomas failed to make their rounds to check on detainees and instead “sat at their desk, browsed the internet and moved around the common area.”
The Bureau of Prisons, which runs the Manhattan facility, has been down 4,000 jobs since 2017. Some officers are forced to work so much overtime that they skip going home between shift and sleep in their cars instead.
An Associated Press analysis of federal staffing found a sharp decline in correctional officers across the U.S. in the first two years of the Trump administration. Between December 2016 and September 2018, the number of correctional officers fell more than 11 percent, from 19,082 to 16,898.
That decline reversed a longtime trend.
Before President Donald Trump took office, the number of federal correctional officers had continuously increased: there were 12.5 percent more officers at the end of 2016 compared to the beginning of 2012.