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July 8, 2019

Some news and notes surrounding latest indictment of Jeffrey Epstein

The arrest and now (not-quite-second) federal prosecution of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein is all the buzz in the criminal justice world today, and this New York Post article provides some highlights on the indictment that was unsealed and how federal prosecutors are now approaching this matter:

Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein “sexually exploited and abused” dozens of underage girls as young as 14 at his homes in New York and Florida in the early 2000s, Manhattan federal prosecutors alleged in an indictment unsealed Monday.  The billionaire financier was charged with sex trafficking and a related conspiracy count for allegedly creating “a vast network of underage victims” for him to exploit across multiple states from 2002 to 2005, the Manhattan federal court documents say.

Aided by three unidentified employees Epstein, 66, allegedly paid the girls hundreds of dollars in cash to come to his residences in Manhattan and Palm Beach to give him nude “massages” that would become “increasingly sexual in nature,” prosecutors allege.  “During the encounter, Epstein would escalate the nature and scope of physical contact with his victim to include, among other things, sex acts such as groping and direct and indirect contact with the victim’s genitals,” the indictment alleges....  Epstein “intentionally sought out” girls under 18 — and knew the girls were underage because some told him how old they were, they allege.

“The alleged behavior shocks the conscience and while the charged conduct is from a number of years ago, it is still profoundly important to the alleged victims,” Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said at a news conference announcing the charges. “They deserve their day in court and we are proud to be standing up to them by bringing this indictment.”

The indictment shows the feds want to seize Epstein’s lavish townhouse at 9 E. 71st St. — a seven-story, 21,000-square-foot Upper East Side pad that is one of Manhattan’s largest townhouses and was allegedly one of the venues for his sick sexual pyramid scheme. Authorities “seized evidence including nude photographs what appear to be underage girls,” Berman said.

Epstein’s indictment follows a controversial deal he struck in 2008 with prosecutors in Palm Beach, Florida, after cutting a non-prosecution agreement with the Miami US Attorney’s Office, as detailed last year in an expose by the Miami Herald.  Epstein was facing up to life behind bars, but got a sentence of just 13 months.  The Miami US attorney at the time was Alex Acosta, who is now President Trump’s secretary of labor, and the Justice Department launched an investigation of that agreement in February following a request from Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska).

Berman said Epstein’s non-prosecution agreement “only binds the Southern District of Florida.”

“The Southern District of New York is not bound and is not a signatory,” he said.

Prosecutors will seek to have Epstein held without bail when he appears in court later Monday, Berman said. Berman called Epstein a “significant flight risk” due to his “enormous wealth” and the fact that the charges against him carry a maximum 45 years in prison, which Berman called “basically a life sentence” for someone of Epstein’s age. Berman also noted that Epstein owns two private plans and lives “much of the year abroad.”

Epstein was arrested around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, where he arrived in a private plane from Paris, officials said.

The full 14-page indictment in this high-profile matter is available at this link.

A few prior related posts:

UPDATE: This new Atlantic article by Ken White, headlined "The Jeffrey Epstein Case Is Like Nothing I’ve Seen Before: Great wealth insulates people from consequences, but not always, absolutely, or forever," is the best read on this case that I have seen of late.

July 8, 2019 at 12:32 PM | Permalink

Comments

From Doug's January 2015 link, above:

The (underaged sexual abuse) plaintiffs’ lawyers (former federal judge Paul Cassell and Florida lawyer Bradley Edwards, ) allege that the government failed to meet those obligations (notification to the plaintiffs). In court documents, they accuse the U.S. attorney’s office of concealing the agreement “to avoid a firestorm of public controversy that would have erupted if the sweetheart plea deal with a politically-connected billionaire had been revealed.” https://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2015/01/victim-rights-back-story-at-heart-of-new-cassell-dershowitz-blood-feud-.html

Fortunately, Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman is the one who erupted

Doug, any relation?

Posted by: Dudley Sharp | Jul 9, 2019 6:55:30 AM

No relation that I know of, Dudley...

Posted by: Doug B | Jul 10, 2019 9:10:40 AM

Berman said Epstein’s non-prosecution agreement “only binds the Southern District of Florida.”

“The Southern District of New York is not bound and is not a signatory,” he said.

Both Mark Bennett and Scott Greendfield have cast doubt on whether this assertion is legally correct. They note that the typical language found in plea agreements is missing from his AND that both prosecutors are part of the federal executive. Whether this current prosecution is barred by double jeopardy will be interesting to play out.

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 10, 2019 5:18:18 PM

I am very confident, Daniel, that Epstein's defense team will seek a dismissal on the basis of the prior agreement. I will be surprised if that motion will succeed. But if the defense team can get Epstein released on bail (say with a home confinement deal like Bernie Madoff got), I am sure they will be eager to litigate the issue (VERY slowly) all the way to SCOTUS.

Posted by: Doug B | Jul 11, 2019 2:12:50 PM

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