Good morning from New York.
At today’s Jeffrey Epstein bail hearing, will we learn:
* How many new accusers called the FBI tip line since his indictment?
* How much money he has and how he got it?
* Will he stay in jail before trial?
Live-coverage at 10am, @CourthouseNews
Catching folks up to speed:
On Friday, prosecutors spotted curious timing between the Miami Herald's exposé and payments to possibly co-conspirators in Florida. Two days after the series, a $100,000 wire; three days after that, $250,000 to someone else. https://www.courthousenews.com/feds-eye-suspicious-epstein-payments-after-herald-expose/ …
Prosecutors estimated Epstein had more than $500 million tied to one unnamed financial institution from which the government traced $10 million income per year, which Epstein made from "whatever it is he does."
Memo: https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/epstein-bail.pdf …
Epstein asked to await trial inside his $77 million mansion—an Upper East Side building that allegedly doubled as his sex-trafficking hub. Judge rejected similar package years ago in the case of money launderer Reza Zarrab.
Expect to hear more on that.
Zarrab, who perpetrated the biggest money laundering scheme to Iran ever charged in U.S. history, wanted to live in a Manhattan high rise. Judge Berman shot it down, calling it not only unjust but counter to the purpose of bail.
Essentially, bail isn't short for bespoke jail.
If you haven't, read my profile/interview of Berman, whose other high-profile cases have included Deflategate, Dinesh D'Souza, #PanamaPapers, and as a Queens Family Judge, Mets outfielder Carl Everett, where he granted press access to child-abuse claim. https://www.courthousenews.com/on-the-bench-in-the-age-of-trump/ …
Meanwhile, feel free to shoot me any questions in the comments here before the hearing. I may not have the time to answer before the bail hearing starts, but it will help clarify what might needs clarification as the case unfolds.
Great questions, all. Keep them coming, but I'm going to duck out for now to prepare coverage.
Back in less than 15 minutes.
Lots of folks are asking why the Miami properties haven't been searched.
It's not in the Southern District of New York, and the Southern District of Florida entered into this non-prosecution agreement more than a decade ago, which you can expect to hear wrangling about today.
That word "globally" is going to get a lot of mileage from Epstein's defense attorneys.
Note: The non-prosecution agreement has not yet been voided, even though a federal judge in Florida ruled it broke the law (the CVRA). That Florida judge will later decide the penalty.
Read the full non-prosecution agreement starting at page 18. https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Epstein-bail.pdf …
Prosecutors and defense attorneys have taken their seats at the tables. Empty seat waiting for Epstein.
Epstein has taken his seat.
We're about to begin.
Judge Berman: For your information and for the people sitting in the overflow courtroom, we have tried to accommodate everyone.
Berman notes that pretrial services reports have been filed with him, an initial report and another filed today.
It says: "There is no condition or combination of conditions that will reasonably assure the appearance of defendant as required and the safety of the community."
The report, which like other pretrial services reports, is not public, recommends that Epstein remains detained.
Berman says he won't rule today, but he will decide on Thursday, July 18.
(Context: That delay between bail hearing and ruling is typical.)
Berman adds that several victims are in court and can be heard "if they wish to be heard."
Prosecutors will be up first today, as they have the burden in these proceedings.
Berman notes he will question each side, and he begins to preview some of those queries.
Berman summarizes the arguments of both of the parties before arguments begin and the burden each party has.
His question for the defense: "How was the burden rebutted in this case?"
For the govt: "Whether that presumption has been rebutted, and if so, how has govt proved that remand appropriate, in this case?"
More specifically, Berman notes Epstein's his sex-offender registration reqs. in New York, Florida and Virgin Islands. What about New Mexico, he asks
Essentially, Berman's seeking more information about proceedings in the various states and jurisdictions related to Epstein's sex-offender status.
Next, Berman moves onto Epstein's finances.
Berman said he allowed Epstein to file financial information under seal so as not to slow down proceedings, but he describes that information as "cursory" and suffers from an "absence of detail."
Berman: "I am inclined to place the summary on the docket." He'll hear args on it.
Berman moves onto alleged witness tampering and obstruction of justice on the recent payments.
See here: https://www.courthousenews.com/feds-eye-suspicious-epstein-payments-after-herald-expose/ …
He wants to know what add'l insights into this episode they can share.
"I reserve the right to have more questions," Berman says.
AUSA Alex Rossmiller for the govt, talking about the "extraordinary risk of flight" and the danger to the community.
He joins with pre-trial services recommendation and request of the victims.
Rossmiller has many questions about Epstein's finances before beginning to consider bail application.
"How much money does he have? Where is it?... How much of it is in diamonds or art?"
Also, what accounts and more.
Rossmiller: "Many individuals identifying themselves as victims and witnesses" have come forward and prosecutors have been able to "dramatically expand" the scope of their investigation.
No estimate of the number of new accusers.
Assets in "diamonds and art" found in Epstein's UES mansion.
"We're just relying on the defendant's word for all of this," Rossmiller says, referring to Epstein's finances.
What is known about his finances should "alarm" the court, he adds.
🚨 "We became aware today" of a passport issued by a foreign country, in the 1980s, expired currently, with Epstein's picture but not his name, Rossmiller says.
Rossmiller alludes to the police reports the government has submitted and reviews the known evidence of witness tampering.
Judge Berman wants more information about that.
Rossmiller: The government took no position on the defendant's sealing application because they had no idea what he was going to submit and deferred to the court.
Rossmiller slams Epstein's defense for pursuing "longshot, dubious legal arguments" at some future time.
This case "will go forward," and he's confident Epstein "will be convicted," he adds.
Epstein's team now up.
Epstein's defense attorney doesn't introduce himself and goes into presumption of innocence.
"The stakes are grave, and one of the most important reasons for Epstein's release" are to give him the right to prepare a defense.
"You don't punish first and have a trial second."
Berman: You said high-level DOJ officials approved the non-prosecution agreement. Who are they?
Epstein's counsel: First the criminal division and it's head. (Will get name in transcript.) They had a meeting in Washington with that division of the DOJ.
Epstein's attorney arguing now appears to be Martin Weinberg, who just said that they plan to file a motion to dismiss.
Berman presses him about series of cases involving minor victims where the presumption of remand maintains.
Berman: "[W]e totaled up 12 cases all of which involve minor victims, kidnapping, sex-trafficking of children, aggravated sexual abuse" plus a further litany of offenses, all of which all carried "presumption of remand instead of bail."
Essentially, Berman's pressing Epstein's counsel on this astute observation by @JenTaub.
Epstein's counsel notes that the government has not alleged allegations of further abuse since 2005.
The indictment charges conduct between 2002 and 2005.
Berman: "I have a question about that too."
Berman notes that defense claimed any danger Epstein posed to the community has "abated" or "evaporated."
"You don't cite any case that says 14 years and it's over and it evaporates," he says.
The idea that he will abandon "his 14 years of self-discipline," he doesn't think the govt can carry that burden and that weight, the defense attorney says.
Berman invokes studies about recidivism that measure recidivism beyond 10, or 14, or 15 years.
Recidivism actually goes up after 15 years, and it's higher than after five years, according to this study Berman's citing.
Plus, Berman notes, victims don't always come forward and so a lot of these cases not reported.
Note: Judge Berman is a licensed clinical social worker.
Interesting fact: The National Association of Social Workers bestowed Judge Berman with a leadership service award in late March.
Another profile of mine goes into that. https://www.courthousenews.com/mediation-experts-tout-successes-of-below-radar-parley/ …
Berman: "The question is, how do you know that?" referring to claim that Epstein has not reoffended since 2005.
Epstein's counsel cites visibility of the case and says he didn't flee before the Florida non-prosecution agreement.
Service advisory: Ducking out momentarily to work on quick update. Be right back.
Berman discloses that he read the New York Post report that Epstein was not in compliance with his obligations in New York. (He emphasizes that this is a news report, but questions the attorney about it.)
That NYP story: https://nypost.com/2019/07/10/nypd-let-convicted-pedophile-jeffrey-epstein-skip-judge-ordered-check-ins/ …
Epstein's counsel replied there has been no notice of violation, outside of media reports.
Berman also presses him on sex-offender registration in New Mexico, where Epstein's counsel said he's not required to register.
More on those New Mexico requirements.
Epstein's attorney denies that a private investigator tried to run a father off the road, an allegation prosecutors cited among witness tampering claims.
Epstein's counsel on the suspicious payments after the publication of "Perversion of Justice": "The payment of an employee and the payment of a friend is not 'witness tampering' because the @MiamiHerald wrote an article."
Berman: "Respectfully, I don't think the financial summary" is sufficient. "For one it's an unverified... un-audited, and not very detailed either."
"It seems to me there has to be a fuller financial picture to know what would be appropriate."
Epstein's counsel called the bail submissions "admittedly rough," but his client would agree to any bond to "virtually guarantee" his appearance.
"He would sign any bond and give your honor and U.S. District Court clerk with any collateral" the court orders.
Arguing against publishing a summary of Epstein's finances, Weinberg says: "We are facing a trial someday."
"Every fact that is generated by this proceeding becomes the basis of a... series of articles," he adds.
Epstein's counsel praises his adversary at the prosecution table: "Mr. Rossmiller writes eloquently and speaks eloquently."
But the counsel adds the SDNY kept a leash on other defendants out on bail: "Madoff was released on bail. He surrendered."
Epstein's counsel turns to the private security question, referring obliquely to the case of Reza Zarrab, whom he notes--accurately--was arrested en route to Disney after landing in Miami.
He notes that Berman rejected that bail package and he read the opinion.
"We need him released, judge," the attorney says. "This is an enormously challenging case for defense counsel."
Epstein's counsel says his client's in the SHU, aka isolation unit.
Berman notes that many people in Rikers Island can't afford bail.
"Everybody has the right to consult with counsel," Berman notes. "If that's the standard, what are we going to tell all those people can't make a $500 or $1,000 bail..."
Epstein's counsel replies that most of them aren't facing such high-profile, well-resourced prosecutions.
Note: Epstein is also prodigiously well-resourced, and gave only a glimpse of those resources in his bail memo.
Rossmiller back up for the prosecution again, "briefly."
Rossmiller's "lightning round":
Responding to the question of Epstein's ability to prepare a case having access to counsel behind bars, the AUSA says: "This court has significant experience with that kind of case with a detained defendant with Zarrab."
Rossmiller says that Epstein's asking for "special treatment" to be locked up in his "gilded cage," using the turn of phrase memorably coined in a headline by @BenWeiserNYT's story in the @NYTimes in the case of Reza Zarrab.
Rossmiller on defense statute 1591 is "enslavement" & "pimping people out":
"Your honor, it's underage girls that are involved in this case, and it's underage girls that are the victims," Rossmiller notes, emphasizing consent can't be an issue and saying elements of crime met.
Rossmiller: "The idea that if there was misconduct it would have been charged" if it existed is "particularly rich in this case."
There's plumes of smoke, and it's reasonable to assume there's fire, he adds.
On Epstein counsel claiming their client had been "disciplining himself" since 2005, Rossmiller says: "The defendant keeps telling on himself here."
It concedes predisposition.
"Your honor this is the Southern District of New York," Rossmiller said, in what may be fairly read as a veiled dig at the Southern District of Florida.
Epstein's counsel back up: There's an inherent contradiction between the government tying these two payments to witness as if this is akin to attempt to influence a witness, and his landing near NYC.
"He was arrested flying into Teterboro from Europe," Weinberg says.
David Boies, for the victims, gets "the last word," Berman says.
🚨 Boies asks for one of the victims whom he represents to speak briefly. "Sure," Berman said, granting permission.
Annie Farmer, one of Epstein's accusers: "I was 16-years-old when I had the misfortune to meet" Jeffrey Epstein, and she was flown into New Mexico.
"His wealth, his privilege and the notoriety of the case would make it... more difficult," Farmer says, her voice cracking.
Asked a question by Berman, Farmer said: "He was inappropriate with me and I would prefer not to go into the details about labeling that at this time."
Another attorney is about to read a statement from a client.
Courtney Wild (sp?, need to double check): "I was sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein starting at the age of 14."
Berman: Where did that occur?
CW: In Palm Beach, Florida.
You can follow @KlasfeldReports.