U.S. ends case against Jeffrey Epstein's jail guards

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NEW YORK, Dec 30 (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors decided to end their criminal case against two Manhattan jail guards who admitted to falsifying records on the night the financier Jeffrey Epstein killed himself on their watch.

In a Thursday filing in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors asked a judge to dismiss claims against Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, after both complied with the six-month deferred prosecution agreements they agreed to in May.

Epstein was found hanging in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on Aug. 10, 2019, while awaiting trial for sex trafficking, in what New York City's medical examiner called a suicide.

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Noel and Thomas were accused of falling asleep and surfing the internet that night rather than checking on Epstein every 30 minutes.

Both admitted to having "willfully and knowingly" falsified records to make it seem they were monitoring Epstein properly.

Their deferred prosecution agreements required that they each perform 100 hours of community service and cooperate with a federal probe arising from Epstein's death.

William Barr, the U.S. attorney general at the time, had been angered that such a high-profile inmate was able to kill himself while in federal custody.

Epstein had been on suicide watch the month before died.

Thomas' lawyer Montell Figgins said his client was happy with the dismissal and looked forward to putting the matter behind him. Noel's lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Epstein's longtime associate, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, was convicted on Wednesday of helping recruit and groom underage girls for Epstein to abuse over at least a decade.

Maxwell is expected to appeal her conviction.

The case is U.S. v. Noel et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-cr-00830.

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Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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