Jeffrey Epstein

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Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein mug shot.jpg
Epstein's mugshot, 2006
Born Jeffrey Edward Epstein
(1953-01-20) January 20, 1953 (age 66)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Education Cooper Union
New York University
Occupation Financier
Owner, Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation

Jeffrey Edward Epstein (born January 20, 1953) is an American financier, science and research philanthropist, and registered sex offender.[1] Epstein began his career at the investment bank Bear Stearns, before forming his own firm, J. Epstein & Co. In 2008, Epstein was convicted of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution, for which he served 13 months in "custody with work release",[2] which meant he was allowed to spend 16 hours a day outside of prison. On July 6, 2019, Epstein was arrested for sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York, according to multiple law enforcement sources.[3][4] He lives in the United States Virgin Islands.

Early life

Epstein was born in 1953 to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Coney Island. Epstein's father worked for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After graduating from Lafayette High School in 1969,[5][6] he attended classes at Cooper Union and dropped out in 1971.[7] He later attended the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University, but left without receiving a degree.[6]

Career

Epstein taught calculus and physics at the Dalton School in Manhattan from 1973 to 1975.[6] Among his students was a son of Alan C. Greenberg, chairman of the investment bank Bear Stearns.[5] In 1976, Epstein started work as an options trader at Bear Stearns,[6] where he worked in the special products division, advising high-net-worth clients on tax strategies.[6] Proving successful in his financial career, Epstein became a partner at Bear Stearns in 1980.[6]

In 1982, Epstein founded his own financial management firm, J. Epstein & Co., managing the assets of clients with more than US$1 billion in net worth. In 1996, Epstein changed the name of his firm to the Financial Trust Company and, for tax advantages, based it on the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.[6]

In 2003, Epstein bid to acquire New York magazine. Other bidders were advertising executive Donny Deutsch, investor Nelson Peltz, media mogul and New York Daily News publisher Mortimer Zuckerman, and (then) film producer Harvey Weinstein. They were ultimately outbid by Bruce Wasserstein, a longtime Wall Street investment banker, who paid $55 million.[8] In 2004, Epstein and Zuckerman committed up to $25 million to finance Radar, a celebrity and pop culture magazine founded by Maer Roshan. Epstein and Zuckerman were equal partners in the venture. Roshan, as its editor-in-chief, retained a small ownership stake.[9]

Criminal proceedings

In March 2005, a woman contacted Florida's Palm Beach Police Department and alleged that her 14-year-old stepdaughter had been taken to Epstein's mansion by an older girl. There she was allegedly paid $300 to strip and massage Epstein.[10] She had allegedly undressed, but left the encounter wearing her underwear.[11]

Police began an 11-month undercover investigation of Epstein, followed by a search of his home. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also became involved in the investigation.[12] Subsequently, the police alleged that Epstein had paid several escorts to perform sexual acts on him. Interviews with five alleged victims and 17 witnesses under oath, a high school transcript and other items found in Epstein's trash and home allegedly showed that some of the girls involved were under 18.[13] The police search of Epstein's home found large numbers of photos of girls throughout the house, some of whom the police had interviewed in the course of their investigation.[11]

The International Business Times reported that papers filed in a 2006 lawsuit alleged that Epstein installed concealed cameras in numerous places on his property to record sexual activity with underage girls by prominent people for criminal purposes, such as blackmail.[14] Epstein allegedly "loaned" girls to powerful people to ingratiate himself with them and also to gain possible blackmail information.[12] In 2015, evidence came to light that one of the powerful men at Epstein's mansion may have been Prince Andrew, Duke of York.[12] A former employee told the police that Epstein would receive massages three times a day.[11] Eventually the FBI received accounts from 36 girls whose allegations of molestation by Epstein included overlapping details.[12]

The investigation resulted in a 53-page federal indictment. Alexander Acosta, then the U.S. attorney for South Florida, agreed to a plea deal in which the government agreed to grant immunity from all federal criminal charges to Epstein, along with four co-conspirators and any unnamed “potential co-conspirators”. The deal halted the investigation and sealed the indictment. Epstein agreed to plead guilty to state prostitution charges, register as a sex offender, and pay restitution to three dozen victims identified by the FBI.[15] The Guardian said, "Despite this, the US government eventually agreed to allow Epstein to plead guilty to just one count of soliciting prostitution from an underage girl under Florida state law. ... Epstein agreed not to contest civil claims brought by the 40 women identified by the FBI, but escaped a prosecution that could have seen him jailed for the rest of his life."[12]

In May 2006, Palm Beach police filed a probable cause affidavit saying that Epstein should be charged with four counts of unlawful sex with minors and one molestation count.[11] His team of defense lawyers included Gerald Lefcourt, Alan Dershowitz, and later Ken Starr.[10]

After the federal government agreed to charging Epstein on one count under state law, the prosecution convened a grand jury. Then chief of Palm Beach police Michael Reiter later wrote to State Attorney Barry Krischer to complain of the state's "highly unusual" conduct and asked him to remove himself from the case.[10] The grand jury returned a single charge of felony solicitation of prostitution,[16] to which Epstein pleaded not guilty in August 2006.[17]

On February 21, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Marra said federal prosecutors violated the law by failing to notify victims before they allowed him to plead guilty to only the Florida offense. The judge left open what the possible remedy could be.[18] On March 11, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit gave parties one week to provide good cause as to why the summary judgement and case documents should remain under seal, without which they would be unsealed on March 19, 2019.[19][20]

On July 6, 2019, Epstein was arrested again on sex trafficking charges. Court documents show that at least 40 underage girls were brought into Epstein's mansion for sexual encounters. As of July 6, 2019, prosecutors with the Public Corruption Unit of the Southern District of New York plan to charge him with sex trafficking and conspiracy to traffic minors for sex.[3][4][21] Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. According to witnesses and sources, about a dozen FBI agents broke down the door to Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse with search warrants.[22]

Sentencing

In June 2008, after Epstein pleaded guilty to a single state charge of soliciting prostitution from girls as young as 14,[23] he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Instead of being sent to state prison like the majority of sex offenders convicted in Florida, Epstein was housed in a private wing of the Palm Beach County stockade. He was able to hire his own security detail and was allowed "work release" to his downtown office for up to 12 hours a day six days a week.[24] He served 13 months before being released for a year of probation. While on probation he was allowed numerous trips on his corporate jet to his homes in Manhattan and the U.S. Virgin Islands.[25] At release, he was registered in New York State as a level three (high risk of reoffense) sex offender, a lifelong designation.[26][27]

Reactions

The immunity agreement and his lenient treatment were the subject of ongoing controversy. The Palm Beach police chief accused the state of giving him preferential treatment,[10] and the Miami Herald said U.S. Attorney Acosta gave Epstein "the deal of a lifetime".[15]

After the accusations became public, several persons and institutions returned donations that they had received from Epstein, including Eliot Spitzer, Bill Richardson,[28] and the Palm Beach Police Department.[13] Harvard University announced it would not return any money.[28] Various charitable donations that Epstein had made to finance children's education were also questioned.[23]

On June 18, 2010, Epstein's former house manager, Alfredo Rodriguez, was sentenced to 18 months' incarceration after being convicted on an obstruction charge for failing to turn over to police, and subsequently trying to sell, a journal in which he had recorded Epstein's activities. FBI Special Agent Christina Pryor reviewed the material and agreed it was information "that would have been extremely useful in investigating and prosecuting the case, including names and contact information of material witnesses and additional victims".[29][30]

Lawsuits

The case was scheduled to be examined in court in December 2018 as part of a state civil lawsuit by attorney Bradley Edwards against Epstein. The trial was expected to provide victims with their first opportunity to make their accusations publicly. However, the case was settled on the first day of the trial, with Epstein apologizing to Edwards; other terms of the settlement were confidential.[31]

An additional long-running lawsuit is pending in federal court, aimed at vacating the federal plea agreement on the grounds that it violated victims' rights.[31] On April 7, 2015, Judge Kenneth Marra ruled that the allegations made by alleged victim Virginia Roberts against Prince Andrew had no bearing on the lawsuit by alleged victims seeking to reopen Epstein's non-prosecution plea agreement with the federal government; the judge ordered that allegation to be struck from the record.[32] Judge Marra made no ruling as to whether claims by Roberts are true or false. There was an effort to add Roberts and another woman as plaintiffs to that case.[33] Marra specifically said that Roberts may later give evidence when the case comes to court.[34]

Other civil lawsuits

On February 6, 2008, an anonymous Virginia woman filed a $50 million civil lawsuit[35] in federal court against Epstein, alleging that when she was a 16-year-old minor in 2004–2005, she was "recruited to give Epstein a massage". She claims she was taken to his mansion, where he exposed himself and had sexual intercourse with her, and paid her $200 immediately afterward.[16] A similar $50 million suit was filed in March 2008 by a different woman, who was represented by the same lawyer.[36] These and several similar lawsuits were dismissed.[37]

All other lawsuits have been settled by Epstein out of court.[38] Epstein has made many out-of-court settlements with alleged victims and, as of January 2015, some cases remain open.[37]

A December 30, 2014, federal civil suit was filed in Florida against the United States for violations of the Crime Victims' Rights Act by the Department of Justice's agreement to Epstein's limited 2008 plea; the suit also accuses Alan Dershowitz of sexually abusing a minor provided by Epstein.[39] (See Two Jane Does v. United States.) The allegations against Dershowitz were stricken by the judge and eliminated from the case because he said they were outside the intent of the suit to re-open the plea agreement.[32][40] A document filed in court alleges that Epstein ran a "sexual abuse ring", and lent underage girls to "prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders".[41]

A federal lawsuit filed in California in April 2016 against Epstein and Donald Trump by a California woman alleged the men sexually assaulted her at a series of parties at Epstein's Manhattan home in 1994, when she was 13 years of age. The suit was dismissed by a federal judge in May 2016 because it didn't raise valid claims under federal law. The woman filed another federal suit in New York in June 2016, but it was withdrawn three months later, apparently without being served on the defendants. A third federal suit was filed in New York in September 2016. The two latter suits included affidavits by an anonymous witness who attested to the accusations in the suits, and an anonymous person who declared the plaintiff had told him/her about the assaults at the time they occurred. The plaintiff, who had filed anonymously as Jane Doe, was scheduled to appear in a Los Angeles press conference six days before the 2016 election, but abruptly canceled the event; her lawyer Lisa Bloom asserted the woman had received threats. The suit was dropped on November 4, 2016. Trump attorney Alan Garten flatly denied the allegations, while Epstein declined to comment.[42][43][44][45]

Virginia Roberts lawsuits

In January 2015, a 31-year-old American woman, Virginia Roberts, who is later known as Virginia Giuffre,[46] alleged in a sworn affidavit that at the age of 17, she had been held as a sex slave by Epstein. She further alleged that he had trafficked her to several people, including Prince Andrew and Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz. Roberts also claimed that Epstein and others had physically and sexually abused her.[47]

Roberts alleged that the FBI may have been involved in a cover-up.[48] She said she had served as Epstein's sex slave from 1999 to 2002 and had recruited other under-age girls.[49] Prince Andrew, Epstein, and Dershowitz all denied having had sex with Roberts. Dershowitz took legal action over the allegations.[50][51][52] A diary purported to belong to Roberts was published online.[53][54] Epstein entered an out-of-court settlement with Roberts, as he has done in several other lawsuits.[12]

The BBC television series Panorama planned an investigation of the scandal.[55] As of 2016 these claims had not been tested in any law court.[56]

Personal life

Epstein has been a registered sex offender since 2008.[1] As of July 6th, 2019, he has been facing criminal charges related to the sex trafficking of minors.[57] Epstein owned a private Boeing 727 jet and traveled in it frequently, logging "600 flying hours a year (...) usually with guests on board".[58] In September 2002, Epstein flew Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey, and Chris Tucker to Africa in his private jet. Flight records show Bill Clinton flew on Epstein's plane 26 times. Epstein's plane has been nicknamed the "Lolita Express" by media due to his conviction and the accusations of sexual involvement with underage girls made against him.[6][59][60][61]

Epstein was also a longtime acquaintance of Prince Andrew and Tom Barrack,[62] and has attended parties with numerous celebrities, such as President Donald Trump,[63] Katie Couric, George Stephanopoulos, and Woody Allen.[64] Trump said of Epstein in 2002: "I've known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."[65]

Residences

Epstein's New York home is reputedly the largest private residence in Manhattan;[12] it previously housed the Birch Wathen Lenox School. The 50,000-square-foot (4,600-square-meter), nine-story mansion is just off Fifth Avenue and overlooks the Frick Collection. The financier's other properties include a villa in Palm Beach, Florida; an apartment in Paris; a 10,000-acre ranch with a hilltop mansion in Stanley, New Mexico;[66][10] and a private island near Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands called Little Saint James, which includes a mansion and guest houses.

Science philanthropy

In 2000, Epstein established the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, which funds science research and education. Prior to 2003, the foundation funded Martin Nowak's research at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In May 2003, Epstein established the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University with a $30 million gift.[67]

The extent of Epstein's claimed philanthropy is unknown. This foundation fails to disclose information which other charities routinely disclose. Concerns have been raised over this lack of transparency, and in 2015 the Attorney General of New York was reported to be trying to get information.[68]

See also

Ghislaine Maxwell

References

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Further reading

External links