Mark Epstein gets angry when he is asked probing questions about his brother. He curses, insists the questions aren't relevant and sometimes slams down the phone. Mostly, he defends his older brother, Jeffrey Epstein, insisting he wasn't a sex trafficker at all.
"He was innocent and, until proven guilty, you are entitled to bail in America," said Mark Epstein, Jeffrey Epstein's only sibling, next of kin and likely heir to his brother's estimated $500 million fortune.
Mark Epstein is talking, but only because he believes that his 66-year-old brother was killed, and he is challenging both the Department of Justice and New York City's chief medical examiner. He insists the pathologist erred in concluding that his brother hanged himself in August at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center.
"I could see if he got a life sentence, I could then see him taking himself out, but he had a bail hearing coming up," said Epstein, a real estate mogul who says he knows very little about his late brother's businesses -- or his brother's alleged sex crimes against underage girls and young women.
Mark Epstein, 65, lives in New York, where he grew up with his brother and parents in Brooklyn. He says at the time of his brother's death, on Aug. 10, he had not seen him in seven years, and did not speak to him often.
"Jeffrey and I were not that close, we shared brother stuff, but I was not involved in what he was doing. When he first got in trouble he called me. We were very straight with each other. I wasn't going to lecture him."
Jeffrey Epstein was first arrested in Palm Beach, Fla., in 2006. A multimillionaire whose exact source of wealth remains a mystery, Jeffrey cultivated friendships with powerful and elite scientists, politicians, CEOs, celebrities, academics and philanthropists -- as well as former and current presidents, such as Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.
In 2008, Epstein received an extraordinarily lenient federal nonprosecution agreement that allowed him to plead guilty to minor prostitution charges. Under the deal, negotiated by former Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, he received federal immunity on sex trafficking charges, and agreed to serve 13 months in the Palm Beach County jail.
He spent very little time in his jail cell, as he was granted a liberal work release arrangement by the Palm Beach County sheriff. Epstein's private valet picked him up nearly every day and took him to his downtown West Palm Beach office.
Mark says after his brother was released from jail in 2009, he reformed himself. Mark says to his knowledge, his brother didn't do anything illegal with other girls or women after that time. He points out that most of the women coming forward with allegations post-2009 were women who were 18 or older.