Federal prosecutors are fighting to ensure Jeffrey Epstein doesn’t get to wait out his sex trafficking trial at the same $77 million Manhattan mansion where he allegedly abused teens for years.
At a bail hearing in a Manhattan federal court Monday morning, assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller argued that the 66-year-old Epstein poses a significant flight risk, since he owns at least one private jet and several mansions, including a private island. Plus, there’s also a locked safe full of diamonds and cash in his massive Upper East Side estate, attorneys said — and an expired passport with Epstein’s photograph, although it’s under a different name and lists him as a resident of Saudi Arabia.
“The evidence is already significantly stronger — and getting stronger every day,” Rossmiller said.
Judge Richard Berman delayed deciding whether Epstein can be released on bail or held until his trial until he reviews more evidence. He’s expected to make a decision Thursday. In the meantime, Epstein is being held at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.
Investigators discovered a “trove” of nude photos at the New York estate where they executed a search warrant last week. And, attorneys alleged in a court filing Friday that Epstein used his wealth to pay off possible co-conspirators — potentially to block them from testifying against him — after the Miami Herald published an investigation detailing his alleged crimes in November 2018.
Several of Epstein’s alleged victims were sitting in the court gallery Monday, according to Courthouse News reporter Adam Klasfeld.
The financier is accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls in a sex trafficking ring that spanned his estates in Manhattan, Palm Beach and New Mexico. Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges earlier this month, and pleaded not guilty to allegations that he sexually abused minors — some as young as 14 — between 2002 and 2005. At least 12 new accusers came forward since his arrest, with fresh allegations not connected to the earlier cases.
The charges came nearly 11 years after a controversial, Florida-based plea deal allowed Epstein to serve a little more than a year in jail on solicitation charges after he was plagued by similar accusations, and registered as a sex offender.
Epstein’s defense attorneys argued Monday that he’s already complied with the terms of that plea deal, and hasn’t been accused of a sex crime since 2005. Judge Berman responded: "How do you know that?
Epstein’s counsel said he should be able to return to his Manhattan mansion with an ankle-monitoring device. They argued that the 2008 plea agreement, which was made in Miami under then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, should apply to other districts — like the U.S. Southern District of New York. His attorneys have said Epstein would be willing to de-register and ground his jet if he could wait out his trial from home.
"A spotless 14-year record of walking the straight and narrow, complemented by an exemplary 10-year history of diligent sex offender registration and reporting, is compelling proof he was able, once the prior investigation commenced, to conform his conduct to the law's dictates," Epstein’s counsel wrote in a legal filing Friday.
The fallout over the soft Epstein plea deal led Acosta last week to step down from his current post as President Donald Trump's labor secretary.
Cover: This photo shows the Manhattan residence of Jeffrey Epstein, Monday July 8, 2019, in New York. Prosecutors said Monday, federal agents investigating wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein found "nude photographs of what appeared to be underage girls" while searching his Manhattan mansion. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)