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Two jail guards charged in connection to Jeffrey Epstein's death, sources say

NBC News logo NBC News 11/19/2019 Tom Winter and Pete Williams and Joe Valiquette

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Federal prosecutors have charged two guards at a prison in Manhattan in connection to the investigation into accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, a senior law enforcement official said.

The charges against Michael Thomas and Tova Noel, who are both in custody, are expected to be made public shortly and to center around falsifying prison records.

The guards were on duty before Epstein died by suicide in his cell on Aug. 10. The guards were said to have falsified documents to indicate they were regularly checking on the inmate.

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.

Epstein was arrested July 6 at an airport in Teterboro, New Jersey, as he returned from Paris on a private jet. He was charged with one count of sex trafficking conspiracy and one count of sex trafficking and faced up to 45 years in prison if found guilty.

He pleaded not guilty and was denied bail.

The indictment in his case alleged that he sought minors, some as young as 14, from at least 2002 through 2005 and paid them hundreds of dollars in cash for sex at either his Manhattan townhouse or his estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to procuring a person younger than 18 for prostitution and felony solicitation of prostitution. He served a 13-month sentence in a Florida county jail and was granted a federal non-prosecution agreement.

Epstein, 66, was found dead in his downtown Manhattan federal jail cell Aug. 10 as a result of suicide.

Jeffrey Epstein wearing glasses: Image: Jeffrey Epstein appears in court in West Palm Beach, Florida, in 2008. © Uma Sanghvi Image: Jeffrey Epstein appears in court in West Palm Beach, Florida, in 2008.

He was not on suicide watch at the time of his death despite a possible attempt weeks earlier, multiple people familiar with the investigation told NBC News.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who ordered the reassignment of Metropolitan Correctional Center's warden and the leave of the two guards following the financier’s death, has pledged a thorough investigation.

"We will get to the bottom of what happened, and there will be accountability," Barr said earlier this year.

Following Epstein’s death, federal prosecutors shifted their focus to possible charges against anyone who assisted or enabled Epstein in his alleged sex crimes. Agents searched his private island home off the coast of St. Thomas in the Caribbean in their quest for evidence, and Barr had a message for any potential accomplices.

"Let me assure you that this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit," Barr said at a law enforcement conference in New Orleans. "The victims deserve justice, and they will get it."

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