NEW YORK — The billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein should be released from jail and allowed to stay in the New York City mansion where he allegedly abused teenage girls, his lawyers argued Thursday.
In a motion filed in Manhattan federal court, Epstein’s legal team said the convicted sex offender should not be locked up while he awaits trial on the sex trafficking charges that he plans to fight.
Instead, the lawyers say, Epstein should be confined to the sprawling Upper East Side house where prosecutors allege that he performed sex acts on several teenagers over at least three years. The attorneys offered a mortage on the East 71st Street mansion — valued at $77 million — and his private jet as collateral for his release.
“In essence, the government seeks to remand a self-made New York native and lifelong American resident based on dated allegations for which he was already convicted and punished — conduct the relitigation of which is barred by a prior federal nonprosecution agreement,” wrote the lawyers, Reid Weingarten, Martin G. Weinberg and Marc Allen Fernich.
A hearing on Epstein’s bail is set for 10 a.m. Monday before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.
Epstein has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and conspiracy charges that the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office unsealed Monday. Federal prosecutors accused him of sexually assaulting dozens of girls at his New York and Florida homes and paying them hundreds of dollars after each encounter.
If Epstein’s lawyers get their way, the disgraced money manager would get to live in luxury while he fights the charges. His opulent home just off Fifth Avenue is one of the city’s largest private residences, spanning at least 21,000 square feet.
It has nine floors and palatial furnishings, from a desk that reportedly belonged to J.P. Morgan to a Persian rug “so big, it must have come from a mosque,” according to a 2003 Vanity Fair profile of Epstein.
Epstein’s lawyers proposed that he be monitored with a GPS system and surveillance cameras while he stays at the house. And no one but Epstein or his lawyers would be allowed to enter the home without approval from the court or pretrial services officials under the conditions they suggested.
Epstein’s attorneys questioned the government’s ability to bring new charges against him because he negotiated a non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in Florida under which he pleaded guilty to two prostitution charges there in 2008 and was forced to register as a sex offender. That deal has been criticized for its lenience.
Federal prosecutors have asked the court to keep Epstein behind bars while he awaits trial because he remains dangerous and has “innumerable means” to flee the area. They cited his two private jets, his frequent international travel and his private isle in the Virgin Islands, which is his primary home.
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Authorities also discovered at least hundreds of nude and partially nude images of what appeared to be underage girls in the very home where his lawyers want him to stay, according to the government’s Monday court filing.
Confining Epstein to his New York house with electronic monitoring would “merely reduce his head start should he decide to flee,” federal prosecutors said.
“The defendant, a registered sex offender, is not reformed, he is not chastened, he is not repentant; rather, he is a continuing danger to the community and an individual who faces devastating evidence supporting deeply serious charges,” prosecutors wrote.