The jail guards who were on duty when Jeffrey Epstein died say they're being made "scapegoats" for his death, which they say was due to a complete institutional failure of the Manhattan jail where he'd been incarcerated, The New York Times reported.
Epstein, a wealthy financier and convicted sex offender, died in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on August 10, 2019. Though his death has been ruled a suicide, that claim remains in dispute, as previously reported by The Inquisitr.
Two guards who were on duty and assigned to Epstein's cell that night, identified as Michael Thomas and Tova Noel, have been charged with creating false records and conspiracy in relation to Epstein's death. Specifically, prosecutors allege that the guards napped and shopped online instead of checking his cell every half hour, as they were required to do, and that they falsified records saying they had done the required checks when, in fact, they hadn't.
Montell Figgins, the lawyer for Thomas, said that, regardless of what his client did or did not do, there were larger, institutional problems at play at the beleaguered detention facility that led to Epstein's death.
"Unfortunately, the decisions that led to the death of Mr. Epstein were not only because of what my client did or did not do. It was because of a system that failed completely," he said.
The list of things that are known, or believed, to have gone wrong on the night of Epstein's death, and before, is lengthy.
For example, Epstein didn't have a cellmate, even though he'd attempted suicide weeks earlier. What's more, he'd been pulled from suicide watch at the time of his death.
Additionally, two cameras that would have had a clear view of his cell appear to have malfunctioned that night; another had footage that was deemed "unusable."
Beyond that, however, Figgins noted that his client and his colleague had already worked several shifts of mandated overtime the week of Epstein's death. The New York jail had long been plagued by staff shortages.
"Does anyone think that throughout the United States that these are the only two guards that may have taken a nap overnight on their shift? I highly doubt it," Figgins said.
Noel's lawyer, Jason E. Foy, also believes that there's more to Epstein's death than what meets the eye.
"[I believe there are] outside circumstances that are driving this prosecution," he said.