BY JULIE K. BROWN
Here’s the latest from the reporter who pushed the Epstein case into the national spotlight. If you’re looking to come up to speed on the case and what to expect in the next few days, this is the article to read.
The fact that the SDNY is handling this under their Public Corruption Unit means that at least one public official is almost certainly under scrutiny for possible crimes related to Epstein’s sex trafficking or the sweetheart plea deal he received.
Jeffrey Epstein spent a second night in a New York jail cell Sunday, with a federal indictment expected to be unsealed Monday, charging him with sex offenses involving underage girls he and others allegedly trafficked in New York and Florida, sources have told the Miami Herald.
His Saturday arrest capped months of investigating, led by federal agents and prosecutors with the Southern District of New York’s Public Corruption Unit, assisted by investigators with the sex trafficking division. Although details of the case remain undisclosed, there are indications that others involved in his crimes could be charged or named as cooperating witnesses.
Epstein, 66, was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey shortly before 4 p.m. Saturday, as he arrived on his private jet from Paris, where he had been vacationing since June 14, aviation records show. About an hour after they picked him up, federal agents arrived at his imposing Manhattan townhouse, breaking down the door to execute search warrants.
The fact that search warrants were issued shows that federal investigators have new evidence against Epstein beyond the sex cases he was given federal immunity for in Florida in 2008, legal experts told the Miami Herald.
“They can’t take information from a case in 2002 or 2005 to get a search warrant today; there had to have been something for probable cause that contains evidence of a crime found now, so I’m interested in what that evidence is,’’ said Francey Hakes, a former federal prosecutor who once oversaw the Justice Department’s child exploitation crimes division.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre … alleges she was recruited by [Epstein’s former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell,] in 2000 when she was 16 years old. Giuffre was working as a spa attendant at Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s winter home and resort in Palm Beach at the time, court records show.
Trump, who lived less than a mile from Epstein’s waterfront mansion in Palm Beach, had also been friends with Epstein. Records show that he flew on Epstein’s private jet on occasion and attended parties and social events where he was photographed with Epstein.
Giuffre brought a civil defamation suit against Maxwell in 2015, after [Maxwell] called her a liar. It was settled two years later. But 2,000 pages of the previously sealed case file are expected to be made public in a few weeks, the result of litigation by the Miami Herald, and those records could prove damaging to Maxwell and others involved in Epstein’s alleged scheme.
… Epstein’s arrest could open a window to expose other influential people who knew about or participated in his crimes. The question is what evidence or information does Epstein have against them and how might he use it?
“This case is being handled by the public corruption unit, and those people don’t typically handle cases involving child exploitation, so there may very well be some bombshells here of other people’s involvement because their role could mean there was some official action that was corrupt or some official acted corrupt in some way,’’ Hakes said.
Monday’s first appearance is expected to be brief, with the actual indictment revealing little of substance. More crucial will be a bond hearing later in the week to decide whether Epstein can go free while awaiting trial.
The Epstein case drew scrutiny following an investigation published in November by the Miami Herald, called Perversion of Justice, that examined the ways in which the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Alexander Acosta, worked in conjunction with Epstein’s lawyers to engineer the non-prosecution agreement — and keep it secret from Epstein’s victims so they could not object. Acosta is now President Trump’s secretary of labor.
… Acosta held an unusual one-on-one meeting with Epstein’s lawyer, Jay Lefkowitz, in October 2007, at a West Palm Beach Marriott. Records showed that it was at that meeting that Acosta acceded to a non-prosecution agreement that gave Epstein and others involved in his operation federal immunity.
As part of the deal, Epstein was allowed to plead guilty to two state prostitution charges involving a 17-year-old girl, and he served 13 months in the Palm Beach County jail. The deal was configured so that no one — not even his victims — knew the details until nearly a year later. By that time, Epstein had already been released from jail and had returned to his jet-setting life.
In February, a federal judge ruled that the deal was illegal because it violated provisions of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. That decision was the result of a federal lawsuit brought by two of Epstein’s victims who had been fighting to put him in prison for more than a decade.
Here’s an excellent related video (also from the Miami Herald) describing key players in the original Epstein case. Now that Epstein has been arrested for a second time, these figures will once again find themselves under the microscope.