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Jailed financier Epstein seeks release under house arrest

By Brendan Pierson | Thu, July 11, 2019 12:54 EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - American financier Jeffrey Epstein on Thursday asked a federal judge to let him out of jail and allow him to remain under house arrest as he awaits trial on charges of sex trafficking underage girls.

In a filing in federal court in Manhattan, Epstein's lawyers argued that home confinement, along with electronic monitoring, surveillance and a bond secured by a mortgage on his $77 million Manhattan mansion would be enough to ensure that he does not flee the country.

New York-based federal prosecutors said at a court hearing on Monday that they will oppose Epstein's release on bail, saying he poses an "extraordinary risk of flight" because of his wealth, private planes and significant international ties. They are due to respond to Epstein's motion by Friday evening.

Epstein, 66, was arrested on Saturday evening at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, where he had returned on his private plane from Paris. He pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and conspiracy.

The well-connected money manager was known for socializing with politicians and royalty, with friends who have included Republican U.S. President Donald Trump, former Democratic President Bill Clinton and, according to court papers, Britain's Prince Andrew. None of those people was mentioned in the indictment.

According to an indictment, Epstein arranged for girls to perform nude "massages" and other sex acts, and paid some girls to recruit others, from at least 2002 to 2005. Prosecutors said he intentionally sought out girls under the age of 18.

Epstein had faced similar charges from federal prosecutors in Florida in 2007, but reached a deal to avoid federal prosecution by pleading guilty to a Florida state prostitution charge and registering as a sex offender. He served 13 months in a county jail, but was allowed to leave during the day to go to his office.

Epstein's lawyers have said that the previous agreement should make him immune to the new charges, which cover the same period. The New York prosecutors have said they are not bound by the agreement.

In Thursday's filing, Epstein's lawyers said their client had shown he was unlikely to flee through his "perfect compliance with onerous sex offender registration requirements - pinpointing his exact nightly whereabouts - across multiple jurisdictions over a 10-year period."

They said Epstein would nonetheless agree to be fitted with an electronic ankle bracelet, surrender his passport and de-register his private jet as conditions of his house arrest.

The New York prosecutors' office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The prosecutors behind the Florida deal included Alex Acosta, then the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and now Trump's secretary of labor.

Acosta defended the deal in public statements on Wednesday, disputing that it was too lenient and saying it had ensured Epstein, whom he called a sexual predator, would serve jail time.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019. Click For Restrictions - https://agency.reuters.com/en/copyright.html



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