If you’ve seen the movie the Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio, you’ll be well aware that some of the characters that populate that New York thoroughfare are thoroughly unsavory. It is an avenue of the avaricious, a boulevard of boors and a road of the rude and repugnant. And in those worst regards, 66-year-old Jeffrey Epstein fitted right in.
Now, than a decade after his conviction for soliciting prostitution from a minor, registered sex offender Epstein, a man who has socialised with past president Bill Clinton as well as the current occupant of the White House while he trawled the cocktail party circuit of mid-Town Manhattan, has been charged in New York with sex trafficking
When he appeared in court earlier this week, Epstein entered not guilty pleas to charges that he ran what prosecutors say was a vast network of underage girls minors for the sole purposes of sexual exploitation.
Here, I have to admit that to work on Wall Street for the big-name brokers, I thought one would need all sorts of degrees and professional qualifications from some of the best Ivy League colleges in the United States. In Epstein’s case, that’s certainly not true, he never graduated from university and was self-taught in mathematics and physics to the point where he was able to convince the private Dalton School that he could teach the subjects. And by all accounts, he was good at it — to the point where one of the students’ fathers was so impressed, he used his influence to get him into Wall Street investment bank Bear Stearns. Within four years, Epstein was a partner. And by 1982, he had created his own brokerage of J. Epstein and Co. It has more than $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) on its books, and Epstein had all of the trappings including a ranch in New Mexico, the largest mansion in New York and a resort home in Flordia.
Yes, he was living la vida loca.
There was customised private jet, used to fly former President Bill Clinton and the actor Kevin Spacey to Africa in 2002 on a business buying spree. A year later, he tried to but New York magazine with movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, and made a $30 million donation to Harvard which, in Epstein’s case certainly wasn’t for services rendered.
That vida loca included dating Miss Sweden Eva Andersson and Ghislane Maxwell, daughter of the British newspaper tycoon Robert, who ended his life in a suicide swim from his luxury yacht in the Mediterranean. Maxwell, however, wasn’t the only one in over his head when, in 2005, the parents of a 14-year-old girl told police in Florida that Epstein had molested their daughter at his Palm Beach home. A police search of the property found photos of girls throughout the house.
According to the BBC, “This was not a ‘he said, she said’ situation,” Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter said. “This was 50-something ‘shes’ and one ‘he’ — and the ‘shes’ all basically told the same story.”
As is so often the case in the US, prosecutors forged a deal with the hedge fund manager in 2008. He avoided federal charges which would have put him behind bars for the rest of his life, and instead received an 18-month prison sentence. No one said justice is just — the terms allowed him to go on “work release” to his office for 12 hours a day, six days a week, and he was released on probation after 13 months.
The Miami Herald says that the federal prosecutor Alexander Acosta — Secretary of Labour in the Trump administration (Acosta resigned on Friday) — struck a plea agreement hiding the extent of his crimes and ending an FBI investigation into whether there were more victims or more powerful people who took part. The paper described it as the “deal of the century”.
Since 2008 Epstein has been listed as a level three on the New York sex offenders register. It is a lifelong designation meaning he is at a high risk of reoffending.
Since 2008 Epstein has been listed as a level three on the New York sex offenders register. It is a lifelong designation meaning he is at a high risk of reoffending. And yes, he maintained his properties and his assets after his conviction.
A high risk of re-offending? Well, last Saturday, after stepping off his private jet returning from Paris — as people like Epstein do, I guess — he was arrested in New York. At least he would have missed the queues for immigration at JFK airport. Right now, prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of his New York mansion — the scene of some of his alleged crimes occurred. If indeed just is in justice, this time around if convicted Epstein faces 45 years in the federal slammer. That seems about right.