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AG Bill Barr slams 'inadequate' Manhattan jail where Epstein killed himself and turns up heat on his 'co-conspirators', including Ghislaine Maxwell
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 for the first time on Wednesday by DailyMail.com.
Tova Noel, 31, entered an NYPD precinct on Wednesday evening carrying a brown bag. She arrived at the precinct shortly after 6pm and spent around 30 minutes inside before leaving with a female acquaintance.
Noel and colleague Michael Thomas, 41, appeared in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday after surrendering for arrest to the FBI earlier in the day.
The corrections officers, who were assigned to Epstein's Special Housing Unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan, are accused of failing to check on him every half-hour, as required, and of fabricating log entries to claim they had.
The two guards allegedly repeatedly signed false certifications saying that they had conducted multiple counts of inmates during their shift. The prisoners were not checked on for eight hours, according to the indictment. The guards discovered Epstein's body at 6.30am on August 10.
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 for the first time on Wednesday by DailyMail.com
Noel, 31, entered an NYPD precinct at around 6pm Wednesday carrying a brown bag
Noel spent about 30 minutes inside before leaving with a female acquaintance. It is unclear why she visited the precinct and the NYPD did not return DailyMail.com's request for comment
Tova Noel, 31, (left) and Michael Thomas, 41, (right) appeared in a Manhattan court on Tuesday afternoon where they were arraigned on charges of falsifying records and conspiracy in relation to Epstein's death
Noel was charged with five counts of falsifying records and Thomas was charged with three counts while both were charged with conspiracy.
Each charge carries a maximum five-year prison term. The defendants pleaded not guilty and were released on bail.
They are the first to be criminally charged in connection with Epstein's death.
Following the court hearing, Thomas's lawyer, Montell Figgins, said: 'We look forward to our day in court and we hope there will be a positive resolution.'
Jason E. Foy, Noel's lawyer, issued a statement on Wednesday vigorously defending his client and noting that she has no prior criminal record.
'Ms. Noel began her employment with the Bureau of Prisons as a corrections officer at the Metropolitan Corrections Center in June 2018 and has served in that position under notoriously difficult conditions,' Foy stated.
'The Government's decision to criminalize work performance, when there is an administrative process available through the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by her union with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, is disappointing. The disappointment is heightened because Ms. Noel was prepared to cooperate and did not make any efforts to frustrate the Government's investigation into the alleged suicide of Jeffrey Epstein.'
Foy said that his client would not be making any statements until the case concluded and asked that the press decline from approaching Noel for comment.
It is unclear why Noel visited the precinct and the NYPD did not respond to a request for comment by DailyMail.com.
As part of bail conditions, Judge Sarah Netburn set bond at $100,000 and ordered both defendants to surrender their firearms and travel documents.
The two officers were each released on $100,000 bond and ordered to surrender their firearms and travel documents
In an orchestrated plan, fellow officers formed a protective blockade to help shield them from photographers as they were released and left the court
Thomas, who had both self-surrendered to the FBI earlier in the day, is seen trying to hide his face in the back of a van outside the court room
Noel is a Gulf War veteran who spent six years in the National Guard, according to her attorney.
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.
According to the BOP, Noel began her current position as a correctional officer on June 24, 2019 and is currently an employee of Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan.
Thomas began working with the BOP on April 1, 2007 and has held his current position as material handler supervisor at MCC since April 20, 2014.
The pending charges are the first in connection with Epstein's death after he took his own life in August at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (above) while awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls
The guards are expected to be charged in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan later on Tuesday over their alleged failure to check on the millionaire pedophile in his cell the night he took his own life. His body is pictured above being brought out by medical examiners
According to the indictment, Noel and Thomas spent two hours apparently asleep at their desk and browsed the Internet when they were supposed to be performing routine, institutional counts of inmates at the special housing unit at MCC overnight on August 9.
Noel looked up furniture sales and benefit websites while Thomas checked online for motorcycle sales and sports news, according to the indictment.
For eight hours, the two guards, who were the only ones on duty in the unit, did not check on Epstein in his cell. He was found hanged shortly after 6.30am on August 10 when they delivered breakfast trays to prisoners.
Epstein, 66, was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. An autopsy concluded that Epstein hanged himself.
Noel and Thomas's indictment alleges:
The two federal Bureau of Prisons employees, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, were charged on Tuesday with falsifying records and conspiracy in relation to Jeffrey Epstein's death
Their next court hearing is at U.S. District Court in Manhattan on November 25.
Epstein, who was worth an estimated $577 million, had been awaiting trial on multiple sex trafficking charges relating to girls, some as young as 14, between 2002 and 2005. He had pleaded not guilty.
Epstein had been on suicide watch after he was found July 23 on his cell floor with bruises on his neck in an apparent suicide attempt.
He was taken off suicide watch about a week before his death, which meant he was less closely monitored but still supposed to be checked on every 30 minutes.
The city's medical examiner ruled Epstein's death a suicide but conspiracy theories abounded.
The Justice Department has vowed to aggressively investigate and bring charges against anyone who may have helped him.
There is also a related investigation in Paris, where accusers are complaining police haven't done enough to track down potential witnesses.
A 31-year-old woman, who claims she was trafficked and sexually abused by Epstein when she was 15, spoke out publicly for the first time on Monday to announce that she is launching a lawsuit against his estate.
During a press conference in Los Angeles, the woman - only identified as Jane Doe 15 - was spotted wearing a bracelet that read: 'Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself'.
Letter from Tova Noel's attorney, Jason E. Foy
Nadia Marcinkova was one of Epstein's victims as well as an enabler according to interviews with victims back in 2005. Multiple girls also state that Epstein made them engage in sexual acts with MarcinkovaEpstein's accusers may also be able to pursue civil cases against his estate
Attorney General Bill Barr issued a stark warning to Jeffrey Epstein's alleged co-conspirators on Monday, telling them they 'should not rest easy'.
The investigation into the disgraced financier and his sex crimes looks set to shift its focus following his death to those accused of helping him, in a move that threatens to implicate some of the world's richest, most powerful men.
Speaking at a police event in New Orleans Barr said: 'Let me assure you that this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein. Any co-conspirators should not rest easy.
'The victims deserve justice and they will get it.'