Editor's note: On August 10, 2019, Jeffrey Epstein died in an apparent jailhouse suicide. For more information, see The Daily Beast's reporting here.
Jeffrey Epstein’s attorneys submitted a bail package proposal on Thursday in which he volunteered to go under house arrest at his Manhattan mansion—with a “trustee” who would live with him and make sure he doesn’t break any rules.
The defense team recommendation includes Epstein putting up a mansion they claim is valued at $77 million and his private jet to secure a bond, with his brother and a friend also offering up their homes to guarantee he doesn’t flee charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy.
Epstein, 66, has been locked up at a Manhattan federal jail since his arrest Saturday night, and prosecutors say he should stay there until his trial, calling him an “extreme” flight risk.
The financier’s lawyers pushed back on that and said that if he’s released and put on home confinement, he would agree to wear a GPS tracking device on his ankle, install surveillance cameras, and ground his jet.
They disputed government claims that he owns two jets, saying he has just the one, and said he holds one “active” passport, not the three prosecutors said he has.
The bail submission also gave a preview of how Epstein will try to get the case thrown out before it ever gets before a jury.
They have previously argued that the new indictment obtained by federal prosecutors in Manhattan violates a non-prosecution agreement inked by the feds in Miami more than a decade ago. In Thursday’s filing they trotted out a new argument: The allegations are a state matter not a federal one.
“There are no allegations in the indictment that Mr. Epstein trafficked anybody for commercial profit; that he forced, coerced, defrauded, or enslaved anybody; or that he engaged in any of the other paradigmatic sex trafficking activity,” Epstein’s lawyers Reid Weingarten and Martin Weinberg argued in their letter to U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman.
“No one seeks to minimize the gravity of the alleged conduct, but it is clear that the conduct falls within the heartland of classic state or local sex offenses—and at or outside the margins of federal criminal law.”
The indictment alleges that Epstein, with the help of his employees, recruited underage girls for nude massages that turned into sex acts, and that he then tapped some of those victims to go out and find other girls he could pay hundreds of dollars for such massages.
It says that the crimes took place in New York and in Florida, where Epstein has an estate and where he was allowed to plead guilty in 2008 to a state prostitution charge instead of a 53-page federal indictment that had been drafted and then scuttled.
Prosecutors say the seriousness of the charges and the weight of the evidence against Epstein—including photos of apparently underage girls found during a raid on his mansion—could prompt Epstein to use his considerable resources to flee.
Epstein’s lawyers said he didn’t go on the lam the last time he was investigated and wouldn’t now.
“The government makes this drastic demand even though Mr. Epstein has never once attempted to flee the United States,” the lawyers wrote.
“Mr. Epstein would be sacrificing virtually everything he has worked for—including any collateral the Court requires he post to secure his appearance—if he were to flee,” they added.
They said he would post a “substantial” personal recognizance bond that could be set by the court after it reviews new information regarding Epstein’s finances.
Later on Thursday, the defense asked for permission to file the detailed financial disclosure under seal, drawing a complaint from prosecutors who said they could not respond to the bail request without the facts about Epstein’s assets. They then asked the judge to postpone a bail hearing scheduled for Monday.
Epstein’s wealth has been shrouded in mystery for decades.
There is no question that the money manager, often described as a billionaire, has enjoyed a life of incredible luxury, using private planes to jet between the Manhattan mansion, the Palm Beach estate, an apartment in Paris, a ranch in New Mexico, and his private island in the Caribbean.
In a filing on Monday, prosecutors said he has “access to vast financial resources to fund any attempt to flee.”
“Indeed,” they wrote, “his potential avenues of flight from justice are practically limitless.”
Prosecutors also noted that when Epstein was arrested Saturday night, he landed at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey from France after weeks abroad.
Epstein owns an apartment on Avenue Foch, home to some of the most expensive real estate in Paris, favored by ultra-rich foreigners, that becomes a magnet for clubbers and prostitutes after dark.
A neighbor entering the building on Wednesday, holding a couple of baguettes, told The Daily Beast that he knew Epstein had left his second-floor apartment, where blinds were closed and drapes were drawn “just a few days ago.”
Told of the charges against Epstein, the neighbor half-shrugged. Asked if he had seen girls coming and going from the apartment, he indicated he had.
“There’s no smoke without fire,” he said.
Although property ownership can be used as an argument for granting bail—the idea being that someone is unlikely to leave large assets behind to go on the lam—prosecutors argued that’s not the case with Epstein.
“There can be little doubt that the defendant is in a position to abandon millions of dollars in cash and property securing any potential bond and still live comfortably for the rest of his life,” they wrote.
Epstein’s road to riches began when he ditched a career teaching math at the elite private school Dalton to take a lowly job at Bear Stearns. He rose up the trading ranks before leaving the investment bank under a cloud and eventually starting his own firm, J. Epstein & Co.
According to various profiles of Epstein over the years, he claimed that he managed the money of billionaires, though only one large client has ever been publicly identified: Victoria’s Secret founder Leslie Wexner.
Wexner, a self-made billionaire who turned a single Ohio outlet of The Limited into a global retail conglomerate, is a philanthropist and political donor. Epstein served as a trustee of the Wexner Foundation and was listed as the keeper of the foundation’s books on federal filings in the 2000s.
Wexner also owned the opulent seven-story mansion on East 71st Street before Epstein took it over—for how much remains murky—and allegedly turned it into a hub of sex-trafficking activity.
One of Epstein’s accusers, Maria Farmer, has alleged that she was preyed on by the money manager and his aide de camp, Ghislaine Maxwell, at Wexner’s Ohio mansion in the mid-1990s.
A spokesperson for Wexner told The New York Times on Monday that he cut ties with Epstein about a decade ago.