Jeffrey Epstein’s Safe Had ‘Piles of Cash’ and a Fake Passport, Prosecutors Say


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Investigators discovered a safe in Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan mansion that held “piles of cash,” diamonds and an expired passport from a foreign country which had Mr. Epstein’s photo but a fake name and said he lived in Saudi Arabia.

Prosecutors revealed the safe’s contents as they argued on Monday in Federal District Court in Manhattan that Mr. Epstein should be denied bail before his sex-trafficking and conspiracy trial because he was a flight risk and a danger to the community.

He is accused of abusing dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.

Two women who said Mr. Epstein had abused them bolstered the government’s argument, urging Judge Richard M. Berman to deny him bail.

“He’s a scary person to have walking the streets,” said Courtney Wild, who said Mr. Epstein began sexually abusing her when she was 14.

Since the charges against Mr. Epstein became public a week ago, a prosecutor said in court on Monday, many more potential victims and witnesses have come forward.

“We have been able to dramatically expand the scope of our investigation,” the prosecutor, Alexander Rossmiller, said.

Judge Berman said he would not rule until Thursday on whether Mr. Epstein should be granted bail while he awaits trial.

Last week Mr. Epstein proposed in court papers that he be allowed to remain under house arrest in his $56 million mansion on the Upper East Side, promising he would pay for 24-hour security guards who would ensure he did not flee.

His attorneys said in court that Mr. Epstein has been law-abiding for more than a decade; he had pleaded guilty to two state prostitution charges in Florida and served 13 months in jail.

“He didn’t re-engage in this activity,” one of his lawyers, Martin G. Weinberg, told the judge on Monday, adding, “It’s not like he’s an out-of-control rapist.”

Mr. Epstein’s lawyers have said that their client’s release is critical to his ability to help in the preparation of his defense in a case the government has said involves a voluminous number of documents and other evidence.

But Judge Berman pointed to the many less wealthy defendants jailed at Rikers Island awaiting trial on state charges, noting those defendants also had a need to consult with their lawyers.

“What are we going to tell all those people who can’t make a $500 or $1,000 bail?” the judge said.

Echoing the judge’s comments, Mr. Rossmiller argued Mr. Epstein was seeking special treatment to build his own private jail — a “gilded cage”— surrounded by armed guards and security cameras.

“A person who needs those conditions should be detained,” he said.

In seeking Mr. Epstein’s detention, prosecutors had argued in court papers that he could use his fortune, which they estimated to be more than $500 million, to help flee.

Besides mansions in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla., Mr. Epstein owns a home in Paris, a private Caribbean island and a sprawling ranch in New Mexico. He travels in a private jet.

Still, the extent of Mr. Epstein’s wealth remained unclear. Judge Berman noted that a financial disclosure statement Mr. Epstein’s lawyers had filed did not present a comprehensive accounting of his finances.

The government had also said Mr. Epstein might try to obstruct justice if he were given bail. Prosecutors said that last year he wired $350,000 to two people who were potential witnesses against him at a trial.

Mr. Epstein’s lawyers suggested on Monday that the payments could have been “an act of generosity” to Mr. Epstein’s associates, and that government lawyers were unable to prove otherwise.

In 2008, Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to the two state charges in Florida — soliciting a prostitute and procuring a minor for prostitution — as part of a secret deal with federal prosecutors to satisfy a potential indictment on similar charges. He ended up serving his 13-month sentence in a local jail, with work-release six days a week, and avoided federal prosecution.

That deal was brokered by Alexander Acosta, a former United States attorney in Miami who resigned last week as President Trump’s labor secretary after public outrage over the Epstein agreement reached a fever pitch.

Besides the safe containing the passport under a fake name, cash and diamonds, which the government said it had learned about on Monday, the authorities have said that a previous search turned up an extraordinary number of lewd photographs of young women and girls.

The photographs were found Mr. Epstein’s palatial townhouse at 9 East 71st Street, where, according to an indictment, he sexually molested underage girls whom he had recruited through his employees to give him naked massages for money.

On the day Mr. Epstein appeared in court, Leslie Wexner, the retail magnate who was his most important client for many years, released a statement saying he was unaware of the illegal activities charged in the indictment.

Mr. Wexner, in a letter to employees at his L Brands company — which now operates Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works — said Mr. Epstein had been his personal money manager, but that he had severed ties with him a dozen years ago.

“I would not have continued to work with any individual capable of such egregious, sickening behavior as has been reported about him,” Mr. Wexner wrote.

Matthew Goldstein contributed reporting.



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