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Federal Prosecutors Drop Charges In Case Of Prison Guards On Duty When Epstein Died

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The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell ended with her being convicted of five of the six charges against her, after the apparent suicide death of Jeffrey Epstein, but there was another surprise.

A day after her conviction, federal prosecutors dropped the charges against the prison guards who were on watch when Epstein committed suicide.

The two guards, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas in Manhattan, agreed to a no-jail deal in May and federal prosecutors said that they had “satisfactorily complied” with the terms of the deal, The New York Post reported.

Noel and Thomas, who were working overtime shifts, allegedly sat just five yards from Epstein’s cell, but shopped online and took breaks instead of checking his cell every 30 minutes as required.

The guards admitted that they “willfully and knowingly” lied on forms stating that they’d made the required rounds checking on inmates the night of Epstein’s 2019 suicide. 

Epstein, who had been on suicide watch for a month, was found hanging in his cell awaiting his sex trafficking trial on Aug. 10, 2019. The high-profile death was officially ruled a suicide by the New York City medical examiner.

Thomas’ lawyer Montell Figgins said his client is pleased with the dismissal and is happy to put the incident behind him.

Epstein’s longtime partner-in-crime Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted Wednesday evening of recruiting and grooming underage girls for Epstein for years.

She was convicted of sex trafficking minors, which has a possible sentence of 40 years for the 60-year-old.

She was also found guilty of conspiracy to entice a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.

“The road to justice has been far too long. But, today, justice has been done,” Damian Williams , the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said. “I want to commend the bravery of the girls — now grown women — who stepped out of the shadows and into the courtroom. Their courage and willingness to face their abuser made this case, and today’s result, possible.”

“Maxwell was Jeffrey Epstein’s right hand,” Alison Moe, the Assistant US Attorney said in her closing statement to the jury.

“Maxwell and Epstein were partners. They were partners in crime who sexually exploited young girls together,” she said.

But now the Daily Mail’s Daniel Bates published a report arguing that Maxwell has “four possible grounds for appeal – including the judge’s decision to force the jury to work through New Year’s Eve holiday due to the coronavirus.”

“Lawyers for the former socialite, who is facing 65 years in jail for recruiting and trafficking underage girls for Jeffrey Epstein, could zero in on how Judge Alison Nathan handled the case as they seek to overturn the conviction. Their primary argument will likely be how Judge Nathan ordered the jury to sit every single day of the final week until they reached a verdict,” Bates wrote.

Bates continued:

That would have included New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, even though it falls on a Saturday and is a public holiday, and Sunday as well. Maxwell’s lawyers complained that such instructions were essentially telling the jury they needed to ‘hurry up’. Judge Nathan said that the move was necessary because the ‘astronomical’ numbers of Covid-19 cases fueled by the Omicron variant meant there was a real risk of a ‘mistrial’.

But at the end of that very day the jury came back with their verdict.

Other issues which could be raised on appeal include how Judge Nathan handled a question from the panel about count four – transportation of an individual under the age of 17 with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity – on which Maxwell was convicted.

Maxwell’s lawyers are likely to raise concerns about a jury note related to the accuser Annie Farmer and counts one and three, on which they also found Maxwell guilty. Fourthly, Maxwell’s lawyers could object to how Judge Nathan brusquely handled their request for the US Marshals to force one witness to attend court, a request they ultimately dropped.

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