Federal prosecutors are seeking to hold financier Jeffrey Epstein without bail on charges that sexually trafficked dozens of underage victims at his Manhattan mansion.
In a memo on Monday, the prosecutors argued that Epstein poses an extreme flight risk, given his vast wealth and the seriousness of the charges. The 66-year-old financier faces potentially decades in prison if convicted. Epstein pleaded not guilty Monday at a hearing in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman. He will remain in custody at least until Thursday, when the judge will hold a bail hearing.
Epstein was accused of similar offenses more than a decade ago in Florida. In a plea agreement that has come under wide condemnation, he was allowed to plead guilty to state prostitution charges in exchange for a sentence of 13 months in a local facility. He and his alleged accomplices were also granted immunity from federal prosecution.
The case received renewed scrutiny thanks to a Miami Herald investigation published in November, which highlighted the unusually lenient terms of the arrangement.
Epstein was arrested on Saturday afternoon at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, and is being held at New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center. In an indictment unsealed on Monday, Epstein is accused of luring girls as young as 14 to his Upper East Side mansion between 2002 and 2005, and paying them hundreds of dollars for “massages.” The government alleges that Epstein would have the girls undress and touch them sexually, and would also masturbate. The girls were also paid to recruit other girls to come to his home, according to the indictment.
In a bail memorandum on Monday, prosecutors argued that the new charges are not barred by the Florida plea agreement. The government argues that the agreement applied only to conduct in Florida, and does not preclude charges from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, which was not a party to the agreement.
Epstein’s attorneys argue that the government is seeking to back out of the deal.
“To us, this indictment is essentially a do-over,” said Epstein’s attorney, Reid Weingarten, in court on Monday, according to Courthouse News. “That should chill the blood of every defense attorney who negotiates a deal with the United States.”