The federal prison guards charged in connection with Jeffrey Epstein’s jailhouse suicide pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon and were released on $100,000 bond each.
Tova Noel, 31, and Michael Thomas, 41, were both ordered to surrender their passports during their arraignments in Manhattan federal court.
Each guard spoke in a loud, clear voice while saying “Not guilty” when asked how they wanted to plead in front of a courtroom gallery packed with supporters.
Noel was told she’d have to hand over an unspecified personal firearm when her lawyer failed in a bid to let her keep it by noting that she’s not charged with any crimes of violence.
“I’m not suggesting that there’s been any other specific threat, other than that the world’s crazy,” defense lawyer Jason Foy said.
But Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn rejected the request, saying that she needed to ensure the safety of any Pretrial Services officers who visit Noel’s home.
“As you said yourself, the world’s crazy,” Netburn said.
Netburn also ordered Thomas to refrain from “excessive use of alcohol,” but it was unclear why.
Noel and Thomas were indicted earlier Tuesday for allegedly snoozing and surfing the internet instead of checking on Epstein and other inmates in Lower Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center early on Aug. 10.
They found the notorious pedophile hanging in his cell in the “Special Housing Unit” when they brought him breakfast at 6:30 a.m., and confessed their negligence to a supervisor who responded to an alarm, court papers allege.
Prosecutor Nicholas Roos said both guards surrendered to the FBI at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
The accommodation marked a stark departure for the treatment of most federal defendants, who typically get busted without warning at their homes at 6 a.m.
Outside court, Thomas’s defense lawyer said the guard was being wrongly blamed for Epstein’s death.
“We had hoped that the US Attorney’s Office would make an effort to try to address the systemic failures with respect to the Bureau of Prisons. Instead, they chose to indict Mr. Thomas,” lawyer Montell Figgins said.
Figgins also described Thomas as the “single father” of three children and added, “This case is going to ruin his life.”
Thomas and Noel are due back in court on Monday.
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