Two American prison guards were indicted Tuesday in connection with the death of financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
A federal grand jury in New York accused the guards of failing to check on Epstein every half hour, as regulations required for prisoners deemed to be suicide risks.
Toval Noel and Michael Thomas were charged with six counts of falsifying prison logs and records to mask their dereliction of duty.
In a press release, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey S. Berman said the guards “repeatedly signed false certifications attesting to having conducted multiple counts of inmates that they did not do.”
The indictment alleged that instead of checking on Epstein, the two instead “sat at their desk, browsed the internet and moved around the common area.” The indictment also alleges Noel and Thomas may have slept at their desk.
The multimillionaire Epstein was found dead in his cell in August as he awaited trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls and sex trafficking. He faced up to 45 years in prison if found guilty.
New York City’s medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide.
Epstein had been put on suicide watch weeks prior after an “apparent suicide attempt” in July, according to a press release by the U.S. Justice Department. As a result, Epstein was placed in a special housing unit where guards were supposed to check on him every 30 minutes.
Additionally, Epstein was assigned to the cell closest to the correctional officers’ desk, fewer than four meters away.
The Associated Press reported Friday that the officers rejected a plea deal offered by prosecutors.