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Financier Jeffrey Epstein asks for home detention, court papers say

In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein,

In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, center, sits with attorneys Martin Weinberg, left, and Marc Fernich during his arraignment in federal court in Manhattan on Monday. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Williams

Alleged sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein on Thursday asked for release from jail to home detention in his Manhattan mansion, with conditions including camera surveillance of exits, monitoring by an ankle bracelet, a bond secured by the $77 million residence, and grounding of his private jet.

Epstein, 66, a wealthy financier whose associates have included figures such as Bill Clinton, President Donald Trump and Britain's Prince Andrew, also said a live-in “trustee” could be named to keep an eye on him, and offered as a “fallback” to pay 24-hour armed guards to keep him from fleeing, a court filing says.

The proposal would let him await trial at the same location where the federal indictment unsealed in New York this week alleges that he abused “dozens” of underage girls in a massage room equipped with sex toys, and where, court documents allege, agents found hundreds of pictures of nude girls last weekend.

But Epstein’s lawyers, in the bail memo filed Thursday in Manhattan federal court, continued to maintain that the new charges are barred by a 2007 nonprosecution agreement with federal authorities in Florida, and sensationalist “hyperbole” should not get in the way of his right to bail. 

“Popular condemnation aside, compelling legal issues stand between Mr. Epstein and any possible conviction on the allegations of conduct from 14 to 17 years ago pressed in the indictment,” lawyers Reid Weingarten and Martin Weinberg wrote Manhattan U.S. District Judge Richard Berman, who is deciding whether to grant bail.

Epstein is in custody in Manhattan on charges that he hired girls as young as 14 for nude massages that included sexual touching at his homes in New York and Palm Beach between 2002 and 2005. Berman has scheduled a bail hearing for next Monday.

Berman has scheduled a bail hearing for Monday. The judge rejected a hired-security arrangement in a previous case involving rich Turkish trader Reza Zarrab as favoring the wealthy, but another Manhattan federal judge allowed it in a bribery prosecution of Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng.

In the 2007 agreement, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida  Alexander Acosta, now Trump’s labor secretary, agreed not to pursue similar charges during the same time period in return for Epstein pleading to two prostitution felonies in Florida state court, doing jail time, and registering as a sex offender.

That agreement became the subject of growing criticism this year after news stories aired the complaints of victims that it was too lenient and was kept secret from them. A Florida judge then ruled that the failure to notify violated the Crime Victims Rights Act, rendering the deal illegal.

In Thursday’s filing, Epstein’s lawyers laid out their defense, complaining the 2007 deal said Epstein expected “global” coverage for his crimes and was OKd by the Justice Department, but when it became controversial Florida prosecutors urged victims to ask other districts to prosecute.

They also argued that New York federal prosecutors are relying on evidence seized during the earlier investigation, complaining that “the current New York case is not truly independent of the prior immunized conduct” and that Epstein’s rights were “unconstitutionally undermined.”

Epstein’s lawyers said the government had no explanation for why prosecutors waited 12 years to charge Epstein in New York if — as they now claim — he wasn’t protected by the 2007 deal.

“The government will have to explain why it purposefully delayed a prosecution of someone like Mr. Epstein, who registered as a sex offender 10 years ago,” they wrote. “…There is no legitimate explanation for the delay.”

Epstein has not been charged with any crimes or violations of his registered sex-offender status since the earlier deal, but prosecutors, who are expected to respond Friday, have argued he is a flight risk because of his wealth, his ownership of private jets — Epstein said he sold one of his two in June — and his global ties.

He has six homes, one in Paris and one on a private island in the Virgin Islands. The government also has claimed that New York federal prosecutors are not bound by a deal signed by Florida federal prosecutors, and that the new case includes some victims that were unknown in 2007.

The 2007 nonprosecution deal is ambiguous. It has a clause that states that Epstein “seeks to resolve globally his state and federal criminal liability,” but it promises only that “prosecution in this district for these offenses” shall be deferred.

Epstein’s lawyers, who asked permission to file information about his finances under seal, also claimed Thursday that the “sex trafficking” law is being misapplied, because he is not accused of enslaving anyone or coercing anyone into commercial sex, only purchasing sex.

“Here, the principal conduct underlying the indictment is Mr. Epstein’s payment of money for massages that purportedly escalated to alleged sex acts,” they wrote. “Mr. Epstein’s conduct, however, is akin to consumer or purchaser.”

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