Prosecutors, arguing against bail for Jeffrey Epstein, claim he tried to buy off witnesses

The government alleges he paid a total of $350,000 to two potential witnesses.

July 12, 2019, 8:32 PM

Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein paid a total of $350,000 to two potential witnesses in the new case in New York against the wealthy financier, federal prosecutors say.

The allegations came Friday as prosecutors argued against a federal judge setting bail for the multi-millionaire.

Epstein, who in 2008 served 13 months in jail after pleading to state prostitution charges in Florida, was arrested last weekend on charges that he "sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes in Manhattan, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations," according to the indictment.

His attorneys had argued that the multi-millionaire should remain free on bond while awaiting trial, using his Manhattan mansion and his private jet as collateral. But prosecutors responded Friday that Epstein should be held without bail due to his serious threat as a flight risk.

"The defendant’s transient lifestyle, his lack of family or community ties, his extensive international travel and ties outside the country, and his vast wealth, including his access to andownership of private planes, all provide the defendant with the motive and means to become a successful fugitive," prosecutors said in a memo to the court.

In arguing for Epstein's continued detention, prosecutors said that he had demonstrated a "willingness to use intimidation and aggressive tactics in connection with a criminal investigation."

The memo alleges that late last year Epstein wired $100,000 from a trust account to a person who had been named in the 2008 case as a possible co-conspirator of Epstein's, and then three days later wired $250,000 to another suspected co-conspirator.

"Neither of these payments appears to be recurring or repeating during the approximately five years of bank records presently available to the Government," the memo said. "This course of action, and in particular its timing, suggests the defendant was attempting to further influence co-conspirators who might provide information against him in light of the recently re-emerging allegations."

Epstein is charged with paying minor girls hundreds of dollars to provide "massages" that ultimately escalated into sexual encounters, and then later "encouraged or enticed" them to recruit other girls to do the same, thus maintaining "a steady supply of new victims," according to the indictment.

He also "worked and conspired with others, including employees and associates who facilitated his conduct by, among other things, contacting victims and scheduling their sexual encounters with Epstein," the indictment says.

Epstein defense attorney Reid Weingarten did not immediately respond late Friday to a request for comment on prosecutors' claims of potential witness tampering.

If convicted, Epstein, 66, could face up to 45 years imprisonment, which prosecutors say would likely amount to a life sentence.

ABC News' Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.

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