MIAMI--Just days after The Miami Herald published a series about how accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein manipulated state and federal prosecutors to obtain a lenient plea bargain, Epstein wired hundreds of thousands of dollars to two potential accomplices involved in his sex case from a decade earlier, federal authorities announced in a court filing Friday.
Epstein, 66, arrested by New York federal prosecutors last Saturday, faces a new indictment charging him with sex trafficking and conspiracy involving underage girls he allegedly sexually abused in 2002 and 2004 at his waterfront estate in Palm Beach.
The multimillionaire managed to obtain a non-prosecution agreement from U.S. attorneys in Florida in 2008. That agreement gave him and a number of others involved in his alleged sex trafficking operation immunity from federal prosecution. New York U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman resurrected the case, bringing in activities that occurred at Epstein's townhouse in Manhattan, following publication of the Herald's series, Perversion of Justice.
Friday's filing by federal prosecutors, first reported by The New York Times, was part of an effort by Berman to persuade the judge in the case to deny Epstein bail. Epstein remains in jail in New York pending a bail hearing set for 10 a.m. Monday in federal court.
Berman, in a letter to the judge in the case, called Epstein's lawyers' bail proposal "woefully inadequate,'' saying that it "seeks to diminish and demean the harm caused to the many victims of the defendant's appalling sexual abuse ... .''
One of the most disturbing aspects of Epstein's behavior, Berman said, is his ongoing effort to try to intimidate and influence people who have information about his crimes.
As evidence of that, Berman said investigators recently learned that Epstein had paid significant sums of money in late 2018 to two alleged accomplices whose testimony with prosecutors could put him away for life.
Berman said the government found that two days after the Herald published the three-part series, Epstein wired $100,000 from a trust account he controlled to an individual who had been named as a possible co-conspirator in his 2008 Florida non-prosecution agreement. Three days later, on Dec. 3, Epstein wired another $250,000 from the same account to another person identified as a co-conspirator to Epstein's sex trafficking operation, the court filing said.
"Neither of these payments appears to be recurring or repeating during the approximately five years of bank records presently available to the government. This course of action, and in particular the timing, suggests the defendant was attempting to further influence co-conspirators who might provide information against him in light of the recently re-emerging allegations," Berman wrote to Senior U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Berman, no relation to the prosecutor.
Under Epstein's non-prosecution agreement, he was given federal immunity on possible sex trafficking charges. At the time, prosecutors had drawn up a 53-page draft indictment. In exchange, Epstein agreed to plead guilty to two minor prostitution charges in state court in Palm Beach. He was sentenced to 18 months in the county jail, but served 13 months -- most of it under a work release program in which he spent nearly all his waking hours in an office he set up in West Palm Beach.