Federal prosecutors made the allegations in an effort to have bail denied for Mr. Epstein, the financier facing sex-trafficking charges.
Jeffrey Epstein, 66, has been charged with sex trafficking in Federal District Court in Manhattan.
Jeffrey Epstein, 66, has been charged with sex trafficking in Federal District Court in Manhattan.CreditNew York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, via Reuters
Jeffrey Epstein, the financier facing sex-trafficking charges in New York, tried to influence possible witnesses against him, prosecutors said on Friday, wiring $350,000 to two people who might testify against him at trial.
Mr. Epstein sent the money to the potential witnesses in late November and early December, 2018, shortly after the Miami Herald began publishing an investigative report about a secret deal he had reached with the authorities in Florida to avoid federal prosecution, prosecutors said.
The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan made the new allegations in a court filing asking that Mr. Epstein be denied bail while he awaits trial, saying the payments were evidence that he might try to influence witnesses if he were not detained.
The prosecutors have not charged Mr. Epstein in connection with the new allegations, and a spokesman for the United States attorney’s office declined to comment on that possibility.
Mr. Epstein’s lawyers maintain their client has lived a law-abiding life for the past 14 years, since he pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges in Florida and served 13 months in jail. He has plead not guilty to the new federal indictment in Manhattan.
Prosecutors said Mr. Epstein had paid significant amounts of money to influence individuals who were close to him and “who might be witnesses against him at a trial,” the government’s filing said.
Two days after the Herald published its expose, Mr. Epstein wired $100,000 to a person who had been named as a possible co-conspirator in his deal with Florida prosecutors a decade ago.
Three days later, Mr. Epstein sent $250,000 to a person who not only had been named as a co-conspirator in the Florida agreement, but was also identified in the New York indictment as an employee who helped Mr. Epstein in his sex-trafficking scheme.
The payments and their timing, the prosecutors wrote, “suggests the defendant was attempting to further influence co-conspirators who might provide information against him in light of the recently emerging allegations.”
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Mr. Epstein, 66, was arrested on Saturday when his private jet landed at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey after a flight from Paris. He was charged with sex-trafficking and conspiracy in an indictment unsealed on Monday by the office of Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan.
The indictment said that between 2002 and 2005, Mr. Epstein and his employees paid dozens of underage girls to engage in sex acts with him at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla.
Mr. Epstein is also accused in the indictment of encouraging some of his victims to recruit other underage girls for him to abuse. Prosecutors said he paid his “victim-recruiters” hundreds of dollars for each girl they brought him. “In so doing, Epstein maintained a steady supply of new victims to exploit,” the indictment said.
On Thursday, Mr. Epstein asked a judge to allow him to remain free on bond as he awaited trial. He pledged to put up his $56 million Manhattan mansion and his private jet as collateral.
He also proposed he be allowed to remain under house arrest in the mansion, offering to pay for round-the-clock security guards to ensure he did not flee. He said he would wear an ankle bracelet that monitors his location, surrender his passport and ground his jet.
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