The first week of the renewed Jeffrey Epstein sex-trafficking scandal has been a morbidly captivating test case in the abuse of power, in a year dominated by news cycles about the wealthy and influential exploiting systems to their benefit. “I think it’s actual evidence of suspicions people have held for a long time,” said New York’s Margaret Hartmann, wrangling with the public and the media’s Epstein obsession. “It’s a very vivid, fact-based example of how the rich and powerful use their influence to get away with horrible crimes and protect their own.”
As reporters chase down the unspooling threads of Epstein’s social world and prosecutors argue for the sex offender to remain in jail until his trial for sex trafficking and conspiracy, week two appears to have just as much in store. Below is everything we know about Epstein’s attempt to stay out of jail for a few more months.
Epstein wants to use his house and plane as collateral in exchange for his release
On Thursday, Epstein’s lawyers requested that U.S. District Judge Richard Berman set bail, claiming that because Epstein hasn’t engaged in sex trafficking recently, he doesn’t need to be detained prior to the trial. “The indictment does not allege that Epstein committed any crime in the 14-year interval between the end of the alleged conduct and the initiation of this case,” his lawyers wrote in a 16-page letter. His team also praised his “spotless 14-year record of walking the straight and narrow” since the beginning of the first investigation into his conduct in 2005.
In exchange for his release, Epstein’s lawyers offered his $77 million Manhattan townhouse and private jet as collateral for his bond. As part of the proposal, he would agree to surrender his passport, ground his jet, undergo electronic monitoring, and remain under self-financed house arrest in his Manhattan mansion.
For the past week, Epstein has been held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center near City Hall in Manhattan, three cells down from El Chapo.
Unsurprisingly, prosecutors aren’t buying it
Citing his two private planes, multiple homes, and small fleet of cars, Southern District of New York prosecutors said last Monday that Epstein’s “nearly infinite means” and “tremendous incentives to use those means to flee prosecution” mean that he is an “extraordinary risk of flight and danger.” They added that the bail proposal from Epstein’s lawyers is “woefully inadequate” and that the scenario put forth amounts to a “private prison.”
A sealed financial-disclosure form filed by Epstein was interpreted by the SDNY as a“minimal” and “token” effort that did not accurately represent his wealth, which they estimated to be around $500 million, in addition to an annual income of $10 million. They added: “Nothing in the proposed package would prevent the defendant from transferring liquid assets out of the country quickly and in anticipation of flight or relocation.”
Prosecutors allege Epstein may have paid off potential witnesses
They’re not endorsing the “straight and narrow” claim from his lawyers either. According to prosecutors, Epstein may have routed money to possible witnesses shortly after the Miami Herald’s November 2018 investigation into Epstein’s abuse and his lax plea deal. According to an SDNY document filed on Friday, Epstein’s financial records appear to show that on November 30, 2018, just two days after the Herald report, Epstein “wired $100,000 from a trust account he controlled to an individual named as a possible co-conspirator” in the non-prosecution agreement from 2007.
The same records appear to show that just three days after that, on or about December 3, 2018, the defendant wired $250,000 from the same trust account to another individual named as a possible co-conspirator in the NPA and also identified as one of the defendant’s employees in the Indictment. Neither of these payments appears to be recurring or repeating during the approximately five years of bank records presently available to the Government. This course of action, and in particular its timing, suggests the defendant was attempting to further influence co-conspirators who might provide information against him in light of the recently re-emerging allegations
Prosecutors cited police reports from 2008 of “an associate of Epstein’s [who was] offering to buy victims’ silence during the course of the prior investigation. Specifically, one victim reported that ‘she was personally contacted through a source that has maintained contact with Epstein,’ who ‘assured [the victim] that she would receive monetary compensation for her assistance in not cooperating with law enforcement.’ Indeed, the victim reported having been told: ‘Those who help him will be compensated and those who hurt him will be dealt with.’” Also mentioned in the prosecutors’ letter is an alleged event in 2008, when a parent of an accuser reported being driven off the road by Epstein’s private investigator.
Who’s the judge?
U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Berman will preside over the bail hearing. Some of his past cases include those of the Chelsea bomber, Tom Brady’s “Deflategate” suit against the NFL, and the 2016 case of a Turkish-Iranian gold trader involved in money laundering, which bears some similarities to Epstein’s circumstances in regards to bail. Berman wrote at the time that the defendant’s request to self-finance his house arrest was “unreasonable because it helps to foster inequity and unequal treatment in favor of a very small cohort of criminal defendants who are extremely wealthy.” Epstein’s lawyers also cited the gold trader’s case, claiming it as irrelevant, as he was not an American citizen and his assets were held outside the country.
New victims are still coming forward
Since Epstein’s arrest last Saturday, four women have reached out to lawyer David Boies (who is representing Harvey Weinstein) with allegations against Epstein, while 10 other women have contacted lawyers representing alleged Epstein victims. Jack Scarola, a Palm Beach attorney representing five women who were minors when they were allegedly abused by Epstein, told the Miami Herald that “the people we are speaking to are underage victims in Florida and in New York. They are not individuals whose claims have previously been part of any law enforcement investigation.”