Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Epstein has means, motive to flee trial: US prosecutors

Bloomberg

Financier Jeffrey Epstein is worth more than US$500 million, earns more than US$10 million per year and has used his wealth to pay off and intimidate witnesses, US federal prosecutors said on Friday in a court filing urging a federal judge not to release him on bail.

Citing records obtained from a financial institution, which was not named, the government said in the filing that Epstein, who was arrested last week on sex trafficking charges, is “extravagantly wealthy,” adding that he had not yet filled out a financial affidavit to support his bail application.

Prosecutors also said that Epstein wired hundreds of thousands of US dollars to two unidentified coconspirators, who could be witnesses, days after the Miami Herald renewed interest in his case with a series of articles late last year.

In Florida, where he was convicted of soliciting prostitution in 2008, he was also accused of seeking to influence or intimidate potential witnesses.

The government urged in its filing that Epstein remain behind bars until his trial, based on his “extraordinary wealth, demonstrated willingness to interfere with victims and witnesses, continued possession of lewd photographs of young females, and both the incentive and means to flee prosecution.”

They said that any bond for his release would have to be in the “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Epstein shows “a shocking lack of understanding of the gravity of the harm he has perpetrated,” prosecutors told US District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan.

Epstein’s lawyer Reid Weingarten did not return a call and e-mail seeking comment on the government’s filing.

GROWING EVIDENCE

Epstein, 66, was arrested on Saturday last week in New Jersey after stepping off his private jet from Paris, and charged with conspiracy and sex trafficking in minors.

Epstein, who has pleaded not guilty, is accused of molesting girls from 2002 to 2005 and could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

More women have come forward since Epstein was indicted, prosecutors told Berman.

“Against this backdrop of significant — and rapidly expanding — evidence, serious charges, and the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence, the defendant proposes to be released on conditions that are woefully inadequate,” they said.

On Thursday, Epstein’s lawyers filed a 16-page letter arguing for their client’s release.

They told the judge that Epstein could post a “substantial bond” secured by his Manhattan mansion, valued in the tens of millions of dollars.

He would wear a GPS ankle bracelet, ground his private jet and consent to extradition from any country he might run to, the letter said.

If necessary, he would hire armed guards to watch him 24 hours a day, it added.

In their filing, prosecutors reminded Berman that he had denied a similar request to free Turkish-Iranian gold dealer Reza Zarrab on a US$50 million bond.

COCONSPIRATORS?

Two days after the Miami Herald published its series in November last year, Epstein started wiring money to people named as coconspirators in a non-prosecution agreement he had struck with federal prosecutors in Florida in 2007, the government said.

Epstein had agreed to plead guilty to state charges of soliciting prostitution, instead of facing far more serious federal sex trafficking charges — a deal overseen by US President Donald Trump’s labor secretary, Alex Acosta, when he was the US attorney in Miami.

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