Epstein cohort’s arrest becomes new test for plea deal

Epstein cohort’s arrest becomes new test for plea deal

Epstein cohort’s arrest becomes new test for plea deal

NEW YORK — Before Jeffrey Epstein’s jailhouse suicide last year, his defence hinged on a 2008 deal with federal prosecutors in Florida over his alleged sexual abuse of multiple teenage girls. His lawyers said it prevented him from being charged with further crimes.

Could that same deal now help Ghislaine Maxwell, the Epstein confidante arrested Thursday, evade charges she helped lure at least three girls into sexual liaisons with him?

Maxwell’s lawyers haven’t outlined their defence strategy, but her legal team is bound to raise the issue in the months ahead.

The British socialite was arrested Thursday in New Hampshire on charges that she acted as a recruiter of underage girls for Epstein, usually under the guise of hiring them to perform massages, and sometimes participated in his sexual abuse of the teens.

The allegations against the couple date back many years, but Epstein, for a while, appeared to have resolved them under a deal with federal and state prosecutors in South Florida in which he pleaded guilty to lesser state charges and served 13 months in jail and a work-release program.

After a Miami Herald expose brought new attention to the case, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan brought new charges against Epstein last July, arguing that the 2008 deal only applied to the specific U.S. attorney’s office in Florida that made the agreement — not all 94 federal prosecutor’s offices in the country.

A key for Maxwell is that agreement also sought to prevent criminal charges from being brought “against any potential co-conspirators of Epstein.”

The agreement lists four women by name, possibly because they received subpoenas or “target letters” from the government over allegations they were paid to recruit girls for Epstein. However, the agreement notes, it is “not limited to” only them.

Maxwell was not one of the four women identified by name in the agreement, but former Miami federal prosecutor David Weinstein said the “not limited to” wording is broad enough for her lawyers to contend it applied to her, too.

Maxwell’s lawyers could argue “just because her name wasn’t mentioned doesn’t mean she wasn’t protected by the agreement,” Weinstein said Friday.

Gerald Lefcourt, a lawyer who negotiated the 2008 agreement, told the AP last year that he “would never have signed the agreement or recommended it unless we believed that it resolved what it said: all federal and state criminal liability.”

In Maxwell’s indictment, the New York prosecutors appeared to build in an insurance policy — deliberately charging her with crimes occurring in the 1990s, a time period slightly before the activities with underage girls that were the subject of Epstein’s 2008 guilty plea.

If a judge were to rule that the New York prosecutors were indeed bound by the non-prosecution agreement, they could then argue that “this stuff happened before, so it’s not covered and therefore Maxwell’s not protected,” Weinstein said.

A message seeking comment was left Friday for Maxwell’s lawyer. She is being held without bail in New Hampshire and has previously denied any wrongdoing.

Maxwell may not have necessarily counted on the Epstein deal to protect her. In court papers filed Thursday, prosecutors said she went into hiding after Epstein’s arrest last year and took steps to avoid detection before she was apprehended in New Hampshire.

In a memo requesting that she remain jailed until her trial, prosecutors said Maxwell, 58, is linked to more than 15 bank accounts with balances ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $20 million.

Furthermore, they said, she has citizenship in France, where she was born; the United Kingdom, where she has long-lived; and the U.S., where she was naturalized in 2002, and possesses passports from all three countries.

As authorities closed in on Epstein, Maxwell continued to travel frequently, prosecutors said, making at least 15 international flights in the last three years to places including the UK, Japan, and Qatar before ending up in a home on a 156-acre property in Bradford, New Hampshire, that was purchased for more than $1 million in cash through a limited liability corporation last December.

That’s where she was arrested.

While in seclusion, prosecutors said, Maxwell changed her phone number and registered it under the name “G Max,” adopted a new email address and ordered deliveries that had a different name on the shipping label.

After Epstein’s death last August, Attorney General William Barr warned that “any co-conspirators should not rest easy.”

“Let me assure you that this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit,” Barr said at the time. “The victims deserve justice, and they will get it.”

One famous name, Britain’s Prince Andrew, has denied a woman’s allegation that Maxwell arranged for them to have sex at her London townhouse in 2001, when she was 17. Andrew has said the woman was “totally lying.”

The woman’s allegation was not included in the charges filed Thursday against Maxwell, but at a news conference following the arrest, Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said her office was still interested in speaking with the prince.

Tom Hays And Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press

Epstein molesting girls

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday that the province was ready to move forward with Phase 2A and B in the coming weeks. (Photo by Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier)
COVID restrictions for retail, sports and performers further eased

Occupancy in stores and malls boosted to 25 per cent from 15 per cent

Advocate file image
Red Deer COVID cases continue to decline

249 cases in Red Deer, down from 565 peak on Feb. 22

Cilantro and Chive Owner Rieley Kay (centre) and Guest Chef City Councillor Cara Hoekstra (right) hand over a donation of more than $1,000 to he Lacombe and District Historical Society, care of Executive Director Melissa Blunden at the Michener House Museum and Archives. (Photo Submitted)
Over $1,000 donated to Lacombe and District Historical Society

The donation came from the proceeds from the February Burger of the Month at Cilantro and Chive

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

A SAGA member (left) poses as Jessi Hanks (right) with Castle Restaurant puts up a safe space sticker to display on the restaurant’s front door. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
SAGA Wetaskiwin works with local businesses to display they are a safe space

The safe space stickers show that its a safe and inclusive space.

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during their appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta Appeal Court orders 3rd trial for parents in toddler’s meningitis death

Stephans were accused of not seeking medical attention sooner for Ezekiel, who had meningitis when he died

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Kiara Robillard is seen in an undated handout photo. When the pandemic began, Robillard had to rush back home to Alberta from California, where she had been living for five years, after she was struck by a truck that broke her spine in two places. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Kiara Robillard, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘It kind of clicks:’ Text4Hope program helps with depression, anxiety during pandemic

Participants receive one text message every morning for three months

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Most Read