Two guards from New York’s Bureau of Prisons were charged by a federal grand jury on Tuesday with conspiracy and the filing of false records in connection with the night when, convicted sex offender and well connected financier, Jeffrey Epstein died while awaiting trial.

According to the indictment, guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas repeatedly failed to complete tasks assigned to them by procedure, including conducting prisoner counts inside the specialized housing unit that Epstein was being held in. According to reports, the two guards instead sat around at their desks browsing the internet and occasionally visited common areas. In order to hide their dereliction of duty, the indictment alleges, the two guards falsified records to show that they had, in fact, completed their rounds.

Jeffrey Epstein. Photo: Florida Department of Law Enforcement

As a result of the two guards failing to check on their assigned prisoners, there was no guard oversight of Epstein between the hours of 10:30 p.m. on August 9 and 6:30 a.m. on August 10. It was during that period that the wealthy socialite reportedly hung himself inside his cell. Epstein was awaiting trial over allegations that he had run a sex trafficking ring out of his Manhattan mansion and Palm Beach estate, preying on girls as young as 14 years old.

Because powerful individuals like Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and others had long standing ties to Epstein, many believed both political parties had a vested interest in silencing the man before the gritty details of his story could be made public. These theories intensified when the autopsy revealed that the hyoid bone in Epstein’s neck was broken — an injury that is more commonly found in homicides rather than suicides.

In some cases, a broken hyoid bone is a sign of forceful strangulation, but not exclusively. Broken hyoids are also commonly found in hanging deaths, particularly among the elderly. Epstein, who died at 66 years old and didn’t lead a particularly hardy life in the years prior to his death, could certainly have broken the bone himself as he attempted a hanging. As a result, the broken bone was not considered strong enough evidence to suggest homicide in the eyes of New York City officials — and they concluded that Epstein died as as result of suicide.

However, Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist and former New York City medical examiner hired by Jeffrey Epstein’s brother to look into the case, challenged the conclusions made by the city’s current medical examiner. According to Dr. Baden, who was given the opportunity to observe the autopsy as it was conducted by city officials, the evidence doesn’t support the official ruling on Epstein’s death.

Some refuse to accept the idea that Epstein hung himself during the opportunity provided by the guards failing to check on him on the night of August 9. They claim instead that the high profile prisoner was murdered to prevent him from causing damage to other powerful individuals that may have been implicated by Epstein’s trial. However, the Prison Employee’s Union charges that instead, this incident revealed the chronically short staffed and overworked conditions at the Metropolitan Correction Center Epstein was housed in.

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