It is a sad commentary on the state of the justice system and the presidency in the US today that immediately after the news broke that on Saturday the FBI had arrested convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein at the airport his arrival back in the US on his private plane, the question that was widely asked was whether he would again use his connections to get off with a slap on the wrist, like he did the first time. After all, Alexander Acosta who was the US attorney who arranged that sweetheart deal is now secretary of labor. Donald Trump has spoken warmly of his friend Epstein and of his fondness for especially young women. So the question was whether Attorney General William Barr who is the ultimate boss the US Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) that brought the indictments would quash the investigation or Trump would pardon him. You can read a live blog of his arraignment that was held today.
Here is a video of the prosecutor outlining the two sex trafficking charges.
The Miami Herald has been all over this story and was mainly responsible for highlighting the sweetheart deal he got earlier and that resulted in an appeals court last week ordering the unsealing of 2,000 pages of sealed records from a related case and that will be released shortly. They have a report on his latest arrest and the FBI breaking into his New York home with a search warrant.
Jeffrey Epstein spent a second night in a New York jail cell Sunday, with a federal indictment expected to be unsealed Monday, charging him with sex offenses involving underage girls he and others allegedly trafficked in New York and Florida, sources have told the Miami Herald.
His Saturday arrest capped months of investigating, led by federal agents and prosecutors with the Southern District of New York’s Public Corruption Unit, assisted by investigators with the sex trafficking division. Although details of the case remain undisclosed, there are indications that others involved in his crimes could be charged or named as cooperating witnesses.
Epstein, 66, was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey shortly before 4 p.m. Saturday, as he arrived on his private jet from Paris, where he had been vacationing since June 14, aviation records show. About an hour after they picked him up, federal agents arrived at his imposing Manhattan townhouse, breaking down the door to execute search warrants.
The fact that search warrants were issued shows that federal investigators have new evidence against Epstein beyond the sex cases he was given federal immunity for in Florida in 2008,legal experts told the Miami Herald.
“They can’t take information from a case in 2002 or 2005 to get a search warrant today; there had to have been something for probable cause that contains evidence of a crime found now, so I’m interested in what that evidence is,’’ said Francey Hakes, a former federal prosecutor who once oversaw the Justice Department’s child exploitation crimes division.
They also have a video about the key people involved.
One intriguing but unanswered question is why the Public Corruption Unit was involved. It could be because political figures are involved.
Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie K. Brown — whose November expose of Epstein’s remarkably lenient plea deal spurred a pending Justice Department probe — said that his arrest likely has his some of VIP pals quaking in their boots.
The evidence against him includes “message pads where [his clients] would call and leave Epstein messages, such as, ‘I’m at this hotel,’” she told MSNBC’s “Up with David Gura.
“Why do you do that, unless you’re expecting him to send you a girl to visit you at your hotel?” Brown said.
“So there are probably quite a few important people, powerful people, who are sweating it out right now. We’ll have to wait and see whether Epstein is going to name names.”
Last week, a federal appeals court in Manhattan ruled that 2,000 pages of sealed records from a settled defamation suit against Epstein pal — and alleged accomplice — Ghislaine Maxwell should be made public. Maxwell has denied any wrongdoing.
The appeals court ruling noted that the paperwork could contain “new allegations of sexual abuse by several other prominent individuals, ‘including numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known Prime Minister, and other world leaders.”
Mimi Roach is a prosecutor who has worked with the SDNY and she writes that there are many reasons that Epstein and those who enabled and consorted with him should be worried that they may not be able to wriggle out of this latest prosecution like they did with the earlier one.
Charges of federal sex-trafficking carry mandatory minimums of 10-15 years on each count. Mandatory means mandatory. In other words, short of a cooperation agreement with the government—which in the SDNY famously means full cooperation against all possible other subjects and targets—Epstein will serve at least 10-15 years in prison (possibly more depending on the number of counts) if convicted.
In addition, in my experience as a prosecutor involved in trafficking cases in the SDNY, that office is not in the practice of giving slap-on-the-wrist deals to sex offenders and will prosecute the case fairly but with appropriate zeal. The fact that the FBI also reportedly executed a search warrant at Epstein’s New York residence suggests either that they had probable cause to believe there was more recent conduct that occurred there and/or that evidence from his past crimes was likely to be found there this many years later. That search could yield important new evidence.
Third, could Epstein cooperate and implicate other powerful men who were involved in this sex trafficking, both Republicans and Democrats? Yes—but the SDNY will not cooperate a child predator like Epstein easily (for good reason in my view). In my 16 years as a prosecutor, I am only aware of two instances in which someone convicted of a crime of this nature was offered a cooperation agreement. That means Epstein would have to have some very valuable and verifiable information to trade for a cooperation agreement.
So perhaps we can have a glimmer of hope that this utterly despicable person and his equally despicable cronies and enablers finally see justice for what they put all those young women through.