Weather: Dry with a high in the mid-40s. The day starts cloudy and gets clearer in the evening. Expect a steady breeze.
Alternate-side parking: In effect until Nov. 28 (Thanksgiving).
When Jeffrey Epstein’s body was found in his Manhattan jail cell in August, people wondered how such a high-profile inmate was left so unsupervised that he was able to hang himself.
Yesterday, two federal guards who were tasked that night with watching Mr. Epstein at the Metropolitan Correctional Center became the first people to face charges stemming from a criminal investigation into his death.
With those charges, an official account of what possibly happened inside the jail began to emerge.
The guards, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, were charged with failing to check on Mr. Epstein every half-hour, as they were supposed to, and then lying about it on documents, according to an indictment unsealed yesterday.
Instead of checking on detainees from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., the indictment said, the two jail employees “sat at their desk, browsed the internet and moved around the common area.” Ms. Noel, 31, shopped online for furniture, and Mr. Thomas, 41, browsed motorcycle sales and caught up on sports news, according to the indictment. At points, investigators concluded, the guards appeared to be asleep.
Ms. Noel and Mr. Thomas then signed “count sheets,” falsely saying they had checked on inmates several times, the indictment said. They discovered that Mr. Epstein was dead in his cell — 15 feet from their desk — only when they went to give him breakfast.
The indictment said that only on-duty corrections officers would have had access to the unit where Mr. Epstein, a disgraced financier, was being held on sex-trafficking charges. Security camera video suggested that only two other workers entered the unit that night.
The indictment backed up the New York City chief medical examiner’s finding that Mr. Epstein’s death was a suicide by hanging. Lawyers for Mr. Epstein have challenged that ruling, and a forensic pathologist hired by his family has claimed that “evidence points to homicide.”
Jose Rojas, an official in the prison workers’ union, said Ms. Noel and Mr. Thomas were being made scapegoats for Mr. Epstein’s death. Mr. Rojas said that missing rounds and doctoring records were generally treated as policy violations, not as criminal matters.
But that could be changing, Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, told Congress yesterday. “If people just chose not to do their job, we’re hoping the U.S. attorney’s office will pick up those cases and prosecute them for us,” she said. “Because we don’t want those people in the Bureau of Prisons. They are dangerous to everybody — the inmates and the staff.”
What we’re reading
The gender pay gap for Mayor de Blasio’s staffers is getting worse, according to one analysis. [Daily News]
Gunfire in Brooklyn killed one man, and hit a city bus and a school bus carrying a 4-year-old. [NY1]
Want a free house? There’s one catch: You have to move it. [Montclair Local]
Coming up today
Join the nonagenarian sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan for a discussion and a screening of the documentary “Ask Dr. Ruth.” 7:30 p.m. [$35]
At the Women of Slate on 2020, gain insight on the Democratic presidential primary from Slate journalists, then watch the debate with them at the Bell House in Brooklyn. 7 p.m. [$25]
Enjoy a parade and a meet-and-greet with comic heroes at the Harlem Holiday Lights festival on 125th Street, from Fifth Avenue to Marginal Street, in Manhattan. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. [Free]
— Alex Traub and Melissa Guerrero
Coming up on Friday: The New York Times Book Review announces its 10 best books of the year at The Times Center in Manhattan. You’ll hear from the list’s creators, including Pamela Paul, the Books editor. Editors will also reveal their favorites that didn’t make the cut. 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Get tickets ($5-$10) here.
Events are subject to change, so double-check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Times’s culture pages.
And finally: The Cookmobile, a kitchen for learning
The Times’s Florence Fabricant reports:
The Brooklyn Public Library runs a wealth of programs, among them the Cookmobile, which offers free cooking classes for high schoolers, particularly in neighborhoods where fresh ingredients are in short supply.
A compact 5-by-3-by-2-foot unit funded by the Bklyn Incubator, the Cookmobile is fitted with a sink, induction cooktop, convection oven and enough cooking utensils for up to 30 students.
It can be transported from place to place and wheeled right into the library, ready for a class.
“We even have a Vitamix,” said Johanna Lewis, a librarian who teaches the classes with Adeeba Rana, also a librarian. Last week, there were eight students, mostly boys, some of whom were repeats. They learned to make coleslaw and jollof rice, with some cultural background and even a brief food science lesson from Ms. Rana.
The Cookmobile has been holding classes at the Cypress Hills branch on Thursdays from 3:30 to 5 p.m. After Thanksgiving, it will move to another branch, yet to be determined, for six weeks.
It’s Wednesday — make it tasty.
Metropolitan Diary: Feeling good
It was 1979 and I had just moved to New York for a job. I was headed downtown on a not-too-crowded No. 4 train. I was freshly showered in a new suit and polished shoes and feeling good.
I saw a well-dressed young woman across the car looking at me. She smiled.
A few minutes later, when the train stopped at 14th Street, the woman walked up to me and handed me a folded piece of paper before getting off the train.
I waited a moment before looking at what I was sure would be a name and phone number.
The note read simply: “You MUST get a new watch.”
I never wore that black plastic Casio again.
— Richard M. Detwiler Jr.