US drops charges against guards on duty when Epstein committed suicide
New York (AFP) – US prosecutors on Thursday dismissed charges against two New York prison guards who admitted to falsifying records on the night the US financier Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide in his cell in 2019.
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The decision came a day after Epstein's long-time associate British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of recruiting young girls to be sexually abused by him.
Federal prosecutors signed a "nolle prosequi" to drop charges against former guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas after the two completed community service work as part of an earlier legal agreement.
The New York prison warders had been indicted in November 2019, three months after Epstein's death by hanging in his cell in August as he was awaiting trial for sex crimes.
They were accused of not having made their rounds on the night of August 9 to 10, 2019, and of having remained in their office, surfing the Internet.
Noel and Thomas admitted to forging documents to make it appear that they had made their rounds that night.
Epstein, a multimillionaire financier and member of the US and international jet set, was found dead at dawn on August 10. The autopsy concluded suicide by hanging, although his sudden death in custody fueled widespread controversy and conspiracy theories.
Then-US attorney general William Barr denounced "serious" lapses in the allegedly secure prison where Epstein had been held since his arrest in July 2019 and prosecuted for sex crimes, in particular against young girls.
On Wednesday, Epstein's companion and accomplice Maxwell was found guilty by a Manhattan federal court of a series of crimes including trafficking in young girls between 1994 and 2004 for the benefit of Epstein.
Maxwell, 60, faces decades in prison although a sentencing date has not yet been set.
Her brother Kevin Maxwell told ABC News Thursday that he was convinced of his sister's innocence and that her appeal would prove successful, even though he believed Epstein was guilty of the crimes he was charged with.
"The reality is that there are myriad jury cases, miscarriages of justice involving juries, where the verdicts have been overturned on appeal. This will just be yet another one," Maxwell said.
© 2021 AFP