NEW YORK — Attorneys for wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein on Thursday asked a judge to allow him to be held at his Manhattan mansion until his trial after authorities arrested him Saturday on sex trafficking charges.
Epstein pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy. He's accused of sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of girls as young as 14 between 2002 and 2005 at his estate in Florida and his mansion in New York.
In a letter filed Thursday in court, Epstein's attorneys said, "His conduct over the past 14 years proves that he poses no risk of flight or threat to the safety of the community."
"Even if the Court should have concerns to the contrary, there clearly exist a combination of conditions that would be sufficient to assure his presence as required and/or the safety of the community," the letter said.
Epstein's attorneys asked he be allowed to return to his home in Manhattan for detention until his trial and offered to put up a "substantial" bond to ensure his compliance with the proposed terms of his release. Among other things, Epstein's attorneys proposed he be fitted with a GPS device and said their client would agree to ground his private jet and to install surveillance cameras at the front and rear entrances of his Manhattan home.
Epstein's attorneys said he'd be willing to secure his bail with a mortgage on his mansion, "valued at roughly $77 million," and to put up his private jet as collateral.
Prosecutors have said Epstein poses a flight risk, and so he should be held without bond as his case winds its way through the federal court system.
"We think he's a significant flight risk," Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, told reporters Monday. "When you have two planes you live much of the year abroad, we think that's a very real risk."
Berman added the prosecutors believe Epstein "has every incentive to try to flee the jurisdiction."
"The charges are very serious and carry with them a maximum sentence of 45 years, which to someone of Epstein's age is basically a life sentence," Berman said.
Attorneys for Epstein noted in Thursday's letter that the 66-year-old owns only one private jet after selling the other last month. They added that he's already surrendered his passport and said that, as a condition of his release, he would agree not to seek another. He would also give his consent to be extradited back to the U.S. from any country.
"In essence, the government seeks to remand a self-made New York native and lifelong American resident based on dated allegations for which he was already convicted and punished," his attorneys wrote.
Epstein, a hedge fund manager who once hobnobbed with some of the world's most powerful people, avoided a possible life sentence in 2008 after he was accused of molesting girls in Palm Beach County, Florida. Federal prosecutors in the state offered him a non-prosecution agreement in exchange for his guilty plea to lesser charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution, according to The Associated Press.
The deal, which was overseen by then-U.S. attorney and current Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, has been heavily criticized since the Miami Herald published a series of in-depth stories on the case in 2018.
Acosta has faced growing calls for his resignation in light of the new charges filed against Epstein, however; he has defended his former office and claimed state prosecutors planned to drop the case against the wealthy businessman.
Barry Krischer, who was serving as the Palm Beach County state attorney at the time the deal was made, said Wednesday that Acosta's framing of the case was "completely wrong."
"If Mr. Acosta was truly concerned with the state's case and felt he had to rescue the matter, he would have moved forward with the 53-page indictment that his own office drafted," Krischer said.
Epstein is expected to appear in court at 10 a.m. Monday for a bail hearing.
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