MANHATTAN (CN) — A lawyer for one of the guards going on trial after the jailhouse death of high-profile sex offender Jeffrey Epstein told a federal judge Monday that they expect useful evidence from the government’s ongoing investigation.
“Based on our view of the case, I believe that there are outside circumstances that are driving this prosecution that may impact certain information that is available to us,” Jason Foy, an attorney for Tova Noel, said in court this morning.
Noel, 31, was arrested last week alongside fellow guard Michael Thomas, 41, on charges that they falsified records to cover up their failure to perform inmate counts at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on Aug. 9, 2019.
Epstein, who had been remanded to the Manhattan jail complex ahead of his trial on sex-trafficking charges, was found dead in his cell the following morning. A medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide.
At a pretrial conference for Noel and Thomas this morning, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebekah Donaleski noted that the government has gathered more than 100 hours of video surveillance footage and paper records, but that discovery is otherwise “not voluminous.”
With U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres setting an April 20 trial date for the pair, Donaleski said the government intends to produce the discovery evidence on a rolling basis over the next month.
Thomas’ attorney Montell Figgins said Monday his client and Noel were suspended from the Bureau of Prisons without pay after their arrest.
The firing of an MCC employee would have to be processed by their union Council of Prison Locals C-33, a representative council within the American Federation of Government Employees.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn directed Noel to surrender her legal firearms as part of pretrial condition, and Judge Torres upheld the the requirement Monday, referring to the surrender of defendants' firearms as a “commonsense safety measure.”
Noel and Thomas were released last Tuesday on $100,000 bond. They are each charged with one count of conspiring to defraud the United States by their misconduct. While Noel faces an additional five counts of making false records, Thomas is charged with three counts of making false records — each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The indictment says Noel and Thomas were browsing the internet from their desk when they were supposed to be performing their rounds on the night of Epstein’s death in the Special Housing Unit.
Noel allegedly filled out more than 75 separate 30-minute round entries falsely affirming that she and Thomas had completed rounds every 30 minutes checking that each inmate was alive and accounted for in their cells.
The trial of Noel and Thomas next year is tentatively slated to last two weeks.