In this July 30, 2008 file photo, Jeffrey Epstein, center, appears in court in West Palm Beach, Fla. The wealthy financier pleaded not guilty in federal court in New York on Monday, July 8, 2019, to sex trafficking charges following his arrest over the weekend. Epstein will have to remain behind bars until his bail hearing on July 15.
Uma Sanghvi—AP

(Bloomberg) — Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyers asked a federal judge to free their client pending his trial on charges he trafficked in teenage girls for sex.

The 66-year-old fund manager was accused Monday of abusing dozens of girls as young as 14. He is charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy and has been confined in a downtown Manhattan jail since Saturday after he was arrested on his return to New York from Paris in his private jet. His lawyers on Thursday asked U.S. District Judge Richard Berman to set bail.

“The indictment does not allege that Epstein committed any crime in the 14-year interval between the end of the alleged conduct and the initiation of this case,” defense lawyers wrote in a 16-page-letter.

“A spotless 14-year record of walking the straight and narrow, complemented by an exemplary 10-year history of diligent sex offender registration and reporting, is compelling proof he was able, once the prior investigation commenced, to conform his conduct to the law’s dictates,” they added.

Prosecutors argued Monday that Epstein, who could spend the rest of his life behind bars if convicted, has the motive and means to flee. In a court filing, they said he has a mansion in New York, two residences in the U.S. Virgin Islands — one on his own private island — and homes in Paris, New Mexico and Palm Beach, Florida. They listed 15 cars, including a Range Rover and a Mercedes-Benz, and two private planes, one of which is capable of international travel.

Prosecutors also argued that Epstein is a danger to the public, telling the court that federal agents found a “vast trove of lewd photographs” in a search of his New York home. Some of the photographs were found in a safe along with compact discs with labels including “Girl pics nude.”

In an earlier investigation in Florida, Epstein intimidated several witnesses or their relatives, with his private investigator forcing the father of one figure off the road, the U.S. said. That probe was resolved in a controversial 2007 nonprosecution agreement with the federal government and a state-court guilty plea to soliciting prostitution. Epstein served 13 months in jail.

“The defendant, a registered sex offender, is not reformed, he is not chastened, he is not repentant,” the U.S. argued. “Rather, he is a continuing danger to the community and an individual who faces devastating evidence supporting deeply serious charges.”

Epstein is being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan, the same high-security facility where Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chief, is being held while he faces state fraud charges. Also there is the Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

A release on bail would make it easier for Epstein to coordinate his defense and give him a measure of leverage in negotiating a possible guilty plea with the government. Likewise, his continued detention would give prosecutors a strategic advantage.

Prosecutors have until Friday at 5 p.m. in New York to respond to Epstein’s arguments and bail request. Berman will hold a bail hearing on Monday.

The case is U.S. v. Epstein, 19-cr-00490, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Contact us at [email protected].

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