Epstein prison guards charged over falsifying records

This Aug. 13, 2019, file photo, shows the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. (AP)
Updated 19 November 2019

Epstein prison guards charged over falsifying records

  • Epstein was found dead in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on August 10 a
  • US justice officials are investigating how he was able to kill himself when he was supposed to be under close watch

NEW YORK: Two guards who were on duty the night Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide in a high-security jail were charged Tuesday with falsifying records after they apparently failed to check on him.
Epstein, 66, was found dead in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on August 10 as he awaited trial on allegations that he trafficked girls as young as 14 for sex.
US justice officials are investigating how the wealthy financier, one of America’s most high-profile on-remand detainees, was able to kill himself when he was supposed to be under close watch.
New York prosecutors charged Tova Noel, 31, and Michael Thomas, 41, Tuesday with making false records to defraud the United States by impairing the lawful function of a federal prison.
The indictment — unsealed in a Manhattan court — accused the defendants of failing to carry out mandated prisoner checks and then signing false records to cover their tracks.
“As alleged, the defendants had a duty to ensure the safety and security of federal inmates in their care at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,” said US attorney Geoffrey Berman.
“Instead, they repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates, and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction,” he added.
Epstein was a multi-millionaire hedge fund manager who hobnobbed with countless celebrities over the years, including Britain’s Prince Andrew and US President Donald Trump.
Epstein was charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and another of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.
He denied the charges but faced up to 45 years in jail if found guilty.
After his death dozens of women came forward to say they had been abused by him and several have sued his estate for damages.
The prison guards’ indictments were announced a day after another woman accused Epstein of sexually abusing her when she was 15.
The woman, who is using the name Jane Doe 15, told a news conference in Los Angeles the financier took her to his ranch in New Mexico and raped her there.
“Epstein took my sexual innocence in front of a wall of framed photographs of him shaking hands and smiling with celebrities and political leaders. I was only 15 years old,” she said.
“After, he wanted to talk with me about what had just been my first sexual experience and directed me to take time to myself that night to cry. He said that would be beneficial to my growth.”
Epstein’s death fueled several conspiracy theories, mostly speculating that he had been murdered to stop him from revealing compromising information about some of his wealthy acquaintances.
He was convicted in Florida in 2008 of paying young girls for massages but served just 13 months in jail under a secret plea deal struck with the then state prosecutor.


Delhi’s air quality turns ‘severe’ as toxic haze lingers

Updated 19 min 27 sec ago

Delhi’s air quality turns ‘severe’ as toxic haze lingers

  • During the last two months, the capital’s 20 million residents have breathed “moderate” to “satisfactory” air only for four days
  • The air quality index was “very poor” on most days this month

NEW DELHI: India’s capital New Delhi was shrouded in a toxic haze for the second straight day on Thursday, and visibility dropped due to cooler temperatures and lower wind speeds that let deadly pollutants hang in the air.
The air quality index crossed 400 on a scale of 500, indicative of “severe” conditions that pose a risk for healthy people and can seriously impact those with existing diseases.
The index measures the concentration of deadly pollutant PM2.5 — tiny particles that can enter the bloodstream. Chronic exposure to such pollutants can contribute to the risk of developing diseases such as lung cancer, according to the World Health Organization.
Federal pollution control officials were tracking the air quality status, Prashant Gargava, member secretary at the Central Pollution Control Board, told Reuters.
The board falls under the federal environment ministry.
Under an emergency action plan, authorities shut down brick kilns and halted all construction activity during the day.
During the last two months, the capital’s 20 million residents have breathed “moderate” to “satisfactory” air only for four days, according to a record of official data compiled by Reuters.
The air quality index was “very poor” on most days this month.
Air quality levels have crossed 400 for a second time this month despite farm fires from Delhi’s neighboring states — blamed by authorities as the primary cause for poor air quality in recent weeks — coming to an end with the onset of winter.
“Now fire counts are almost stopped except in a few routine incidences and hence no contribution to Delhi’s air quality is expected now onwards for the season,” government-run monitor SAFAR said.
The relentless focus on stamping out farm fires every year tends to deflect scrutiny from authorities that are falling behind on cleaning up industry or improving public transport, critics say.
Vehicular exhausts, along with emissions from industry, contribute more than 50% of Delhi’s air pollution on most days through the year, according to official estimates.
SAFAR forecast rain later on Thursday, but added that Delhi’s air quality was likely to deteriorate next week due to foggy conditions.