Jeffrey Epstein faces sex trafficking and conspiracy charges

Jeffrey Epstein

Federal prosecutors have charged financier Jeffrey Epstein with crimes related to sex trafficking of underage girls, according to reports, more than a decade after he dodged similar charges with a plea deal.

In a freshly unsealed federal indictment, Epstein was charged with trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy, targeting dozens of victims, some of whom were no older than 14. He could get up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

The US financier, who has pleaded not guilty, was friends with President Donald Trump, former president Bill Clinton, Virgin boss Richard Branson and Britain's Prince Andrew. A decade ago, he negotiated a secret plea deal after being accused of molesting underage girls, as NY magazine points out.

On Saturday night, Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, where he had returned on his private plane from Paris. He was jailed for a bail hearing next Monday, when prosecutors plan to argue that the rich world traveler might flee if released.

But in praising the new prosecution efforts, critics have noted that at the time Acosta granted Epstein's previous non-prosecution agreement, his office possessed a great deal of the same evidence now being used by the Southern District of NY.

In 2008, when Epstein first became the subject of a federal investigation and entered a plea deal that earned him freedom at the time, Acosta held the position of an attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

"The alleged behavior shocks the conscience", Berman said.

"They deserve their day in court and we are proud to be standing up for them by bringing this indictment", he said.

The case deals with allegations that Epstein, a 66-year-old hedge fund manager, paid underage girls for massages and molested them at his homes in Florida and NY, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press. Flight logs obtained by Fox News showed the former president took at least 26 trips aboard Epstein's Boeing 727, nicknamed the "Lolita Express", from 2001 to 2003. Rossmiller said no additional indictment was imminent but it was possible "down the road".

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Epstein has said in earlier court filings that his encounters with alleged victims were consensual and that he believed they were 18 when they occurred.

He said investigators would not be able to force him to testify even though his comments could add to the "cumulative" evidence against Epstein, who was in court in NY this week.

The home, formerly a prep school, is across the street from a home owned by Bill Cosby and has been valued at about $110 million.

Epstein's arrest came amid increased #MeToo-era scrutiny of the 2008 non-prosecution agreement, which caused a furor in recent years as the details came to light, many of them exposed in a series of stories by The Miami Herald.

However, Epstein struck a deal to plead guilty to a lesser Florida state felony prostitution charge. He was also required to register as a sex offender. He was also registered as a sex offender.

The case is being handled by the public corruption unit of Berman's office.

As to whether the prince would have anything useful to say, Mr Boies said: 'Yes and no, I think it's all cumulative'. "And so that helped lead the drive".

Authorities said they wouldn't answer questions about anyone linked to Epstein even as Christine Pelosi, daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told supporters that "it is quite likely that some of our faves are implicated" in the case.

The new charges were brought by the public corruption unit within the USA attorney's office in NY, which normally handles cases against politicians.

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