In a memorandum asking a federal judge to deny bail to pedophile and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, prosecutors say the multimillionaire transferred $350,000 to two people who “might be witnesses against him at a trial” shortly after the Miami Herald published an investigation of Epstein’s crimes late last year.
According to the memo, filed by the office of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman, Epstein has in the past attempted to influence witnesses against him, and those efforts “continue to this day.” Two days after the Herald began publishing its “Perversion of Justice” series last November, Epstein wired $100,000 from a trust account to “an individual named as a possible co-conspirator” in a non-prosecution agreement that Epstein obtained in 2008 from former federal prosecutor Alex Acosta.
Acosta resigned on Friday as the Trump administration’s labor secretary.
Three days after the first money transfer, Epstein wired an additional $250,000 from the same account in early December to a second individual also described as a possible co-conspirator and one of Epstein’s employees, prosecutors allege. The payments suggest “the defendant was attempting to further influence co-conspirators who might provide information against him in light of the recently re-emerging allegations.”
The memo responds to a request filed Thursday by Epstein’s lawyers seeking his release on bail pending trial. Epstein, 66, was arrested last Saturday and charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. Additional charges could be pending as more victims come forward.
Epstein’s lawyers offered rather outlandish arguments as to why he should be released or placed under house arrest pending trial. Among them, his attorneys claimed that Epstein’s crimes—which include allegedly operating a pyramid scheme for years that involved possibly hundreds of minors, whom he and others sexually abused—do not amount to trafficking.
The lawyers also claimed, rather disingenuously, that Epstein had led a “spotless 14-year record of walking the straight and narrow…” A search by authorities of Epstein’s New York mansion last weekend turned up hundreds, and possibly thousands, of lewd photographs, many of them likely of minors.
Friday’s memorandum from prosecutors offers a lengthy rebuttal to his lawyers’ arguments.
Epstein “faces substantial evidence of his guilt, founded on the corroborated testimony of numerous victims,” prosecutors argued, “and this case presents the very real possibility that he will go to prison for the rest of his life.”
They also noted that Epstein, through his lawyers, “continues to evidence a complete lack of appreciation for the gravity of the offenses with which he is charged.”
Another reason is that multiple victims in the case have asked prosecutors to seek Epstein’s pretrial detention, pursuant to the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. “They have specifically conveyed to the Government that they would be fearful for their safety if the defendant were released,” prosecutors wrote.
Epstein also is a significant flight risk, prosecutors said. They noted that he has about $500 million linked to one unnamed financial institution, and while it’s not clear if his assets are located entirely in the U.S. or not, nothing would prevent him from transferring assets out of the country, prosecutors said.
“The defendant is an incredibly sophisticated financial actor with decades of experience in the industry and significant ties to financial institutions and actors around the world,” the memo states. “He could easily transfer funds and holdings on a moment’s [notice] to places where the Government would never find them…”
Epstein earns about $10 million a year, they also noted.
“Pretrial Services, victims, and the Government all recommend pretrial detention due to the unusual and concerning confluence of factors in this case, including the defendant’s 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,” prosecutors concluded.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman, from the Southern District of New York, is expected to take up the bail issue on Monday.