Warning that the sex abuse charges against Jeffrey Epstein could land him a 45-year sentence, Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the billionaire financier should be held in prison because he was a “significant flight risk.”
“The charges are very serious, and they carry a maximum of 45 years in jail, which to someone of Epstein’s age is basically a life sentence,” he said, CNN reports.
Berman said Epstein, 66, is a “significant flight risk” because of both his “enormous wealth” and because of the seriousness of the charges.”We think he has every incentive to try and flee the jurisdiction, and when you have two planes and you live much of the year abroad, we think that’s a very real risk.”
Epstein was accused in an indictment unsealed on Monday of sexually exploiting and abusing “dozens of minor girls” between 2002 and 2005 in New York and Florida.
Some of the girls were as young as 14 at the time of the alleged abuse, the indictment said, reports CNBC. It said he would give the girls “hundreds of dollars of cash” after engaging in sex acts with him at his mansion in New York City or at his Palm Beach, Fl., estate.
“In order to maintain and increase his supply of victims, Epstein also paid certain of his victims to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused by Epstein,” the indictment said.
Epstein was expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan Monday. He was arrested Saturday on sex-trafficking charges, which the Wall Street Journal calls “a dramatic turn in a years-long legal saga related to allegations of his activities with underage girls.”
The arrest resulted from an investigation by the FBI and the public-corruption unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan. Epstein is a former asset manager who has been friendly with former President Bill Clinton, President Donald Trump, Prince Andrew, and other world leaders and prominent businessmen.
Federal authorities investigated Epstein for alleged sex abuse more than a decade ago. That case ended in 2007, with him signing a secret non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in Florida. He pleaded guilty to two state prostitution-related felonies and served a 13-month jail sentence in Palm Beach, during which time he was allowed to leave for “work-release” privileges.
Last year, a series of articles in the Miami Herald drew renewed attention to the allegations against Epstein and to the non-prosecution agreement in Florida.