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Jeffrey Epstein appeals bail denial decision in sex trafficking case

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Jeffrey Epstein appeals bail denial decision in sex trafficking case

Courtroom sketch showing Jeffrey Epstein at his bail hearing in New York on July 15th, 2019.

Artist: Christine Cornell

Accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein is appealing a federal judge’s decision to deny his proposed bail package, which left the wealthy financier in jail pending trial.

The move Monday came four days after Judge Richard Berman rejected Epstein’s bid to to be released on a bond of up to $100 million.

Berman said that Epstein posed a danger to the public and represented a serious flight risk. “I doubt any bail package could overcome” Epstein’s “dangerousness,” the judge said at Epstein’s bail hearing Thursday.

Epstein is currently being held in federal lockup in lower Manhattan. His lawyers notified Berman late Monday afternoon that they were appealing his decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The criminal notice of appeal form, which costs $505 to file to the court clerk, does not lay out the grounds for appeal that Epstein’s lawyers plan to cite.

Epstein, 66, is a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton. He is accused in U.S. District Court in Manhattan of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls between 2002 and 2005 at his New York City and Palm Beach, Florida, mansions.

He has pleaded not guilty to one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors. He faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

Epstein’s lawyers had asked Berman to release him on house arrest in the sprawling Upper East Side townhouse, with conditions that included round-the-clock monitoring and an electronic tracking device.

They had originally proposed a bail option worth about $77 million, in which Epstein would put up his townhouse as collateral. They also offered to include Epstein’s private jet in the bail package. 

But federal prosecutors said that Epstein’s vast wealth, which they valued at more than $500 million, and the severity of his potential sentence made him an extreme flight risk.

And they alleged, citing documents recovered from an unnamed financial institution, that Epstein paid a total of $350,000 to two potential witnesses just days after a bombshell expose about Epstein from The Miami Herald.

They also slammed Epstein for providing a “woefully inadequate” portrait of his financial situation to the court, and said that “nothing in the proposed package would prevent the defendant from transferring liquid assets out of the country quickly and in anticipation of flight or relocation.”

In a July 15 bail hearing, Epstein’s lawyer said he would agree to virtually any bail conditions that the judge decided to set. Pretrial release was crucial for Epstein to build a strong defense, the lawyer said. He also argued that the lack of accusations against Epstein since 2005 suggest that Epstein does not represent a “future danger.”

“It’s not like he’s an out-of-control rapist,” the lawyer said. “He doesn’t fit the paradigm.”

But Berman, announcing his decision later that week, said that Epstein’s proposal was “irretrievably inadequate.”

Epstein had previously pleaded guilty in 2008 to prostitution-related charges in Florida state court, where he had to register as a sex offender and received a lax 13-month sentence in which he was allowed out on work release most days.

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