July 10, 2019

USA: Billionaire Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein Was Arrested For Allegedly Sex Trafficking Dozens Of Minors In New York And Florida 2002 and 2005.

The Daily Beast
written by Pervaiz Shallwani, Kate Briquelet, Harry Siegel
Sunday July 7, 2019

Billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was arrested for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of minors in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005, and will appear in court in New York on Monday, according to three law enforcement sources. Epstein, who owns a New York City mansion and an island in the Caribbean, was being held at the federal lockup in Manhattan ahead of his court date.

Saturday’s arrest by the FBI-NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force comes about 12 years after the 66-year-old financier essentially got a slap on the wrist for allegedly molesting dozens of underage girls in Florida.

For more than a decade, Epstein’s alleged abuse of minors has been the subject of lawsuits brought by victims, investigations by local and federal authorities, and exposรฉs in the press. But despite the attention cast on his alleged sex crimes, the hedge-funder has managed to avoid any meaningful jail time, let alone federal charges.

The new indictment—which, according to two sources, will be unsealed Monday in Manhattan federal court—will reportedly allege that Epstein sexually exploited dozens of underage girls in a now-familiar scheme: paying them cash for “massages” and then molesting or sexually abusing them in his Upper East Side mansion or his palatial residence in Palm Beach. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors—which could put him away for a maximum of 45 years. The case is being handled by the Public Corruption Unit of the Southern District of New York, with assistance from the district's human-trafficking officials and the FBI.

Several of the billionaire's employees and associates allegedly recruited the girls for Epstein's abuse, and some victims eventually became recruiters themselves, according to law enforcement. The girls were as young as 14, and Epstein knew they were underage, according to details of the arrest and indictment shared by two officials.

Epstein's attorney Martin Weinberg declined to comment when reached by The Daily Beast on Saturday night. The SDNY also declined to comment.

“It’s been a long time coming—it’s been too long coming,” said attorney David Boies, who represents Epstein accusers Virginia Roberts Giuffre and Sarah Ransome. “It is an important step towards getting justice for the many victims of Mr. Epstein’s sex trafficking enterprise.

“We hope that prosecutors will not stop with Mr. Epstein because there were many other people who participated with him and made the sex trafficking possible," he told The Daily Beast.

In an era where #MeToo has toppled powerful men, Epstein’s name was largely absent from the national conversation, until the Miami Herald published a three-part series on how his wealth, power and influence shielded him from federal prosecution. For years, The Daily Beast has reported on Epstein’s alleged abuse, starting with Conchita Sarnoff's exposes on his easy jail sentence and soft treatment by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which ultimately scrapped a 53-page indictment against Epstein. An earlier version of Epstein’s plea deal included a 10-year federal sentence—before his star-studded lawyers threatened to go to trial in a case prosecutors feared was unwinnable, in part because Epstein’s team dredged up dirt on the victims, including social media posts indicating drug use.

Meanwhile, the financier flitted among his homes in Palm Beach, New York City, and the Virgin Islands, as well as his secluded Zorro Ranch in Stanley, New Mexico, transporting young women on his private jet to facilitate the sexual abuse that’s gone unchecked by authorities, his alleged victims say.

In an announcement planned for Monday the FBI is expected to provide a number for other victims to contact the SDNY.

As early as 2003, Vicky Ward’s Vanity Fair profile cracked into Epstein’s enigmatic facade and, as Ward noted, revealed “he was definitely not what he claimed to be.” Back then, allegations of sexual abuse leveled by one accuser, Maria Farmer, and her family were excised from Ward’s piece after Epstein pressured the magazine.

Epstein’s bust comes mere months after a federal judge ruled his 2007 non-prosecution agreement (NPA)—secretly inked under former U.S. Attorney and current Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta—violated federal law by keeping Epstein’s victims in the dark. Under the sweetheart deal, Epstein dodged federal charges that might have sent him to prison for life. He instead pleaded guilty to minor state charges in Palm Beach, and served 13 months in a private wing of a county jail, mostly on work release.

The alleged victims, who sued the government for violating the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, asked the court to rescind Epstein’s non-prosecution agreement and called for the feds to hold him criminally liable. The NPA also granted immunity to Epstein’s co-conspirators, identified in the document as “including but not limited to Sarah Kellen, Adriana Ross, Lesley Groff, or Nadia Marcinkova.”

But in June, prosecutors for the government advised the judge to uphold the plea deal, saying that voiding it would “cause unintended harm to many of” the victims and jeopardize monetary settlements that more than a dozen of them received.

"If today’s report is true, it only proves that Epstein should have been charged by federal prosecutors 12 years ago in Florida. With his money, Epstein was able to buy more than a decade of delay in facing justice—but fortunately he wasn’t able to postpone justice forever," said attorney Paul Cassell, who represents multiple victims of Epstein in their lawsuit against the federal government.

"While New York prosecutors are apparently seeking to hold Epstein accountable, the fight will continue to force federal prosecutors in Florida to do the same thing," Cassell added in a statement. "While Epstein was at the head of the international sex trafficking organization, that conspiracy could not have functioned without many others playing their part. Jane Doe 1 and 2 will continue to fight for all of Epstein’s co-conspirators to be held accountable in New York, Florida, and anywhere else they committed crimes."

Epstein reportedly supplied valuable intel to federal investigators in exchange for his lenient plea deal; it’s been speculated this information may have been related to Bear Stearns executives’ alleged crimes in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

According to one Page Six report, Epstein lost $57 million in Bear Stearns’ collapse and was a victim identified as “Major Investor No. 1” in the indictment of hedge-fund managers Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tanin. (A federal jury acquitted Cioffi and Tanin of securities fraud charges.) But in March 2019, FOX Business reported that Epstein “did not provide any meaningful cooperation to obtain his relatively light sentence in the hedge fund case or likely any case tied to the financial crisis.” Jack Goldberger, one of Epstein’s attorneys in the Palm Beach sex crimes case, told FOX of the Bear Stearns’ prosecution, “Mr. Epstein was never spoken to by any of the authorities on this subject. He was a very large investor. No more, no less.”

One former federal prosecutor on the Bear Stearns case agreed. “Bottom line, I have no knowledge of Epstein cooperating in any way in the Bear Stearns case. There was no reason to use him,” the ex-prosecutor told FOX.

Epstein’s Victims

Once a math teacher at the elite Dalton School, Jeffrey Epstein left for Bear Stearns before starting his own firm, J. Epstein & Co., which supposedly only managed the fortunes of billionaires. Les Wexner, chairman of Limited Brands, is his only known client. (In April 2019, a new accuser came forward with claims that Epstein and his alleged madame, Ghislaine Maxwell, assaulted her at Wexner’s Ohio residence in the 1990s. Epstein, Maxwell and Wexner have not commented on these allegations.)

Epstein’s financial career has always been shrouded in mystery.

Over the years, Epstein billed himself as a renowned philanthropist and pledged $30 million for Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. He’s palled around with a host of famous faces including Donald Trump and Bill Clinton; the latter traveled with Epstein to Africa to address issues like economic development and AIDS.

In a 2002 profile in New York, one fellow Wall Streeter described Epstein as a “mysterious, Gatsbyesque figure” who “likes people to think that he is very rich” and “cultivates this air of aloofness.” Another prominent investor added: “He once told me he had 300 people working for him, and I’ve also heard that he manages Rockefeller money. But one never knows. It’s like looking at the Wizard of Oz—there may be less there than meets the eye.”

Vanity Fair’s 2003 take on Epstein compared him to the self-made Jay Gatsby, too. “The trading desks don’t seem to know him. It’s unusual for animals that big not to leave any footprints in the snow,” one insider told the magazine.

During his high-flying finance years, Epstein also allegedly harbored a dark secret: his widespread abuse of underage girls. In 2005, Palm Beach police launched an investigation into Epstein after a 14-year-old girl told police an older man named “Jeff” had molested her at his residence, a two-story pink mansion on a dead-end street.

Authorities would discover a disturbing teen sex ring, where victims were allegedly paid to recruit other young girls to provide “massages” inside Epstein’s lair. The victims would be led to Epstein’s bedroom, and Epstein would enter and order them to remove their clothing, police said. The financier would then assault them—sometimes forcing them into intercourse with him or a young woman he described as his “sex slave”—and pay them $200 to $1,000 per visit, according to court documents.

Police say Epstein’s massages were booked with the help of his personal assistants, including Sarah Kellen, who kept a rolodex of underage girls.

But as The Daily Beast previously reported, the state attorney’s office in Palm Beach declined to pursue serious charges against Epstein (filing only a single felony count of soliciting prostitution), claiming the girls weren’t credible. The local police chief, Michael Reiter, accused prosecutors of giving Epstein special treatment and in 2006 referred the case to the FBI. By May 2007, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami drafted a 53-page indictment against Epstein, alongside an 82-page prosecution memorandum. That summer, however, Epstein’s lawyers worked to unravel the case, claiming Epstein wasn’t guilty of any federal crimes.

Epstein and the feds drew up a non-prosecution agreement in September 2007. Without informing any of the victims, the two sides decided that Epstein would plead guilty to a pair of state charges (solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution) and waive his right to contest damages, if the victims decided to sue him over the abuse. He also agreed to pay for the girls’ attorney’s fees.

Indeed, the NPA stated that “the United States, in consultation with and subject to the good faith approval of Epstein’s counsel, shall select an attorney representative for [the victims], who shall be paid for by Epstein.”

The NPA also granted immunity to any “potential co-conspirator” of Epstein’s and ensured the deal would “not be made part of any public record.”

Epstein could have faced multiple federal charges, the NPA noted, including: sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud or coercion, 18 U.S.C. 1591; the use of a facility or means of interstate commerce to entice minors into prostitution, 18 U.S.C. 2422(b); and traveling for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors, 18 U.S.C. 2423(b). The document states Epstein might have committed those crimes from around 2001 to September 2007.

Other women claim that Epstein’s alleged abuse spanned many years and many locations, according to civil court filings.

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UPDATE 7/11/19 at 2:50pm: I added tweets below.
UPDATE 7/11/19 at 4:05pm: I added tweets below.
UPDATE 7/11/19 at 4:59pm: I added tweet below.
UPDATE 7/11/19 at 6:02pm: I added tweets below.

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