Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein pleads not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges

Wall Street billionaire Jeffrey Epstein entered a not guilty plea to new sex trafficking charges brought against him in the Southern District of New York Monday.

Epstein was arrested Saturday on charges pursuant to a new grand jury indictment, which contained one count of sex trafficking conspiracy and one count of sex trafficking. The indictment alleges that Epstein conspired with victims and employees to recruit underage women for sexual purposes in both New York and Palm Beach between 2002 and 2005. The indictment states that he knew his victims were underage because he asked them and they answered. It also shows his efforts to build a network of victims by paying his victims to recruit other underage victims. The indictment seeks forfeiture of Epstein’s New York residence or in its absence assets worth the same as the property. Investigators raided Epstein’s residence with a valid warrant in advance of the hearing and found hundreds or possibly thousands of illicit photos of underage girls.

Earlier Monday, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman released the indictment at a press conference. Berman claimed that the charges against Epstein add up to a maximum of 45 years, which equates to a life-sentence for someone of Epstein’s age. The US Attorney’s Office is seeking to hold Epstein until trial due to his vast assets including monetary wealth, three US passports, and two private jets. Epstein appeared in court today and entered a plea of not guilty. His attorney is claiming this is a redo of Epstein’s past criminal charges in Miami.

Epstein was previously sentenced in 2008 to 18 months for Florida state charges of underage solicitation of prostitution that took place in the same period as today’s charges. The plea agreement was negotiated between Epstein’s attorney Alan Dershowitz and US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Alexander Acosta, who now serves as the Secretary of Labor for the Trump administration. That deal has been widely criticized for providing immunity to co-conspirators and effectively ending an FBI investigation, but a federal judge in Florida ruled in February that Acosta and federal prosecutors may have violated federal law by failing to notify accusers of the agreement. That case is now being reviewed, but this case will continue regardless as the Florida agreement only provided immunity from further charges in Florida.