Epstein Memos Shine Light on Decoy Passport, Murky Assets

     UPDATE: With defense attorneys questioning whether the government has any evidence that Jeffrey Epstein ever used a phony passport found in his safe, prosecutors shot back with details on July 17.
     “In fact, the passport contains numerous ingress and egress stamps, including stamps that reflect use of the passport to enter France, Spain, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia in the 1980s,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe wrote in a 1-page letter on Wednesday.
     “The government further notes that the defendant’s submission does not address how the defendant obtained the foreign passport and, more concerning, the defendant has still not disclosed to the court whether he is a citizen or legal permanent resident of a country other than the United States,” she added.

In this courtroom artist’s sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, center, sits with attorneys Martin Weinberg, left, and Marc Fernich during his arraignment in New York federal court on July 8, 2019. Epstein pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges. The 66-year-old is accused of creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

MANHATTAN (CN) – Locked in a safe inside his $77 million Upper East Side townhouse, wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein kept a long-expired Austrian passport bearing his picture and not his name.

Hoping to mitigate the powerful evidence of Epstein’s flight risk, Epstein’s counsel proffered a new explanation Tuesday as to why he kept that decoy: to protect himself from anti-Semitic attacks.

“Epstein – an affluent member of the Jewish faith – acquired the passport in the 1980s, when hijackings were prevalent, in connection to Middle East travel,” Epstein’s attorney Marc Fernich insisted in a 9-page memo. “The passport was for personal protection in the event of travel to dangerous areas, only to be presented to potential kidnappers, hijackers or terrorists should violent episodes occur.”

Prosecutors warn Epstein will use his “nearly infinite” wealth to escape two sex-trafficking charges.

“Government is attempting to obtain additional information about the foreign passport, including how it was obtained and whether the passport is genuine or fabricated,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe wrote in a 3-page memo. “But the defendant’s possession of what purports to be a foreign passport issued under an alias gives rise to the inference the defendant knows how to obtain false travel documents and/or assume other, foreign identities.”

Dated June 30, Epstein’s financial statement self-reported more than $559 million in total assets, comprised of more than $56 million in cash, $14 million in fixed income, $112 million in equities, $194 million in hedge funds and private equities and the remainder in real estate.

Responding to U.S. District Judge Richard Berman’s observation at a hearing Monday that those numbers were not audited or verified, Epstein’s attorneys offered to provide a forensic accounting of the tycoon’s finances – but only if the judge grants their client bail in his New York mansion.

“As apparent from Mr. Epstein’s initial financial disclosure, Mr. Epstein’s finances are fairly complex,” his attorneys wrote, with some understatement.

When searching Epstein’s house, authorities found other assets in his safe.

“After conferring with law enforcement agents who have reviewed the materials from the safe, the government has learned that the safe contained more than $70,000 in cash,” their memo says. “In addition, the safe contained 48 loose diamond stones, ranging in size from approximately 1 carat to 2.38 carats, as well as a large diamond ring.”

Prosecutors also revealed new details about the payments Epstein made to suspected co-conspirators after the Miami Herald renewed national attention to his decade-old plea deal in the investigative series, “Perversion of Justice.”

Two days after it ran, Epstein paid one possible accomplice $100,000 and wired $250,000 to another three days later. Epstein has not disputed the transactions, and prosecutors now say one of the recipients was “named and featured prominently in the Herald series.”

The Herald’s series painted a portrait of a “Sex Pyramid Scheme” in which recruiters lured underage girls to Epstein, who would pay them for massages that would escalate to assault, and then send them to attract more victims.

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