Feds Scoff at Bail Plea by Indicted Epstein Lieutenant Ghislaine Maxwell

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, driven by Britain’s Prince Andrew, leaves the wedding of a former girlfriend of the prince, Aurelia Cecil, at the Parish Church of St Michael in Compton Chamberlayne near Salisbury, England, on Sept. 2, 2000. (Chris Ison/PA via AP, File)

MANHATTAN (CN) — The U.S. government considers Jeffrey Epstein’s globe-trotting ex-girlfriend far too big a flight risk to allow bail as she awaits trial on sex-trafficking charges, prosecutors wrote Friday to a federal judge.

A British national, the 58-year-old Maxwell has been in solitary confinement since her July arrest at a 156-acre property in Bradford, New Hampshire

Charged in New York’s Southern District with six counts related to Epstein’s decades-long predation, Maxwell is said both to have helped groom young girls for Epstein and to have occasionally participated in the forced sex acts. 

The court on Monday made public a brief filed by Maxwell where she asked to be released from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn to home confinement, with a $28.5 million bail as security. 

In a 36-page memo, Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss asked the court to deny bail, saying it’s essentially the same as the denied motion Maxwell submitted over the summer. 

“Five months ago, after thorough briefing and a nearly two-hour hearing, this court concluded that the defendant posed a serious flight risk and that no condition or combination of conditions could ensure her appearance in court,” Strauss wrote. “The defense now asks this court to reverse that finding by essentially repackaging its prior arguments and presenting a more specific bail package.”  

Strauss points out that when U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan previously denied Maxwell bail, she said that “further information about [Maxwell’s] financial picture would be irrelevant because no combination of conditions could ensure this defendant’s appearance.” 

“The Court’s conclusion was plainly correct,” Strauss said today, and the new motion “does nothing to undermine it.” 

Strauss points to the severity of the accusations against Maxwell, her “extensive financial resources and foreign ties,” and her “demonstrated ability to live in hiding for the long term.” 

Bill Sweeney, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said in July that authorities spent months tracking Maxwell before her arrest at what he called “a gorgeous property in New Hampshire.”

Maxwell’s lawyers made the case in their own letter that, despite being a foreign national, Maxwell has close ties in the U.S. 

“Ms. Maxwell has no intention of fleeing,” wrote her attorney, Mark S. Cohen of New York firm Cohen & Gresser. “If she did, then under the proposed bail conditions she would lose everything and destroy the family she has been fighting so hard to protect since Epstein’s arrest.”

Maxwell’s proposal would involve her co-signing a $22.5 million personal recognizance bond with her unnamed spouse, secured by $8 million in property and $500,000 in cash. Seven family members and friends of Maxwell would co-sign five additional bonds, worth $5 million. 

The private security company hired to ensure she remains in her home would also post its own $1 million bond in support of Maxwell’s bail application. 

The letter also says media coverage of Maxwell has “ruthlessly vilified her and prejudged her guilt.” 

“Indeed, in the three months after her arrest, Ms. Maxwell was the subject of over 6,500 national media articles. That exceeds the number of articles that mentioned such high-profile defendants as  Harvey Weinstein, Bill CosbyJoaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán Loera and Keith Raniere in the 90-day period following their arrests, combined,” Cohen wrote (emphasis in original).

It was the frenzy of media attention, and a desire to protect her family from it, that caused Maxwell to go into hiding, Cohen said. 

Strauss said regardless of whether that was true, Maxwell has shown a “willingness to cut herself off from her family and friends in order to avoid detection.” 

By assuming another identity and concealing her assets, Maxwell was able to purchase property, register cellphones and manage finances, all while avoiding detection by locals or the media, “even when a bounty was offered for her location and when numerous media outlets were searching for her.”  

Strauss went on to say that there is reason to believe Maxwell was hiding not just from the press, but also from the law. 

When FBI agents knocked on Maxwell’s door, she at first tried to hide from them.

“Through a window, the agents saw the defendant ignore the direction to open the door and, instead, try to flee to another room in the house, quickly shutting a door behind her,” prosecutors said in a July detention memo. “Agents were ultimately forced to breach the door in order to enter the house to arrest the defendant, who was found in an interior room in the house.”

FBI agents also found a cellphone wrapped in tin foil on top of a desk in Maxwell’s home, “a seemingly misguided effort to evade detection, not by the press or public, which of course would have no ability to trace her phone or intercept her communications, but by law enforcement.” 

Maxwell’s lawyers say she was acting on the advice of her own private security. 

Even so, the newly unsealed memo reads, “when she fled, she did so knowing that she was disobeying the directives of FBI agents, not members of the media or general public.” 

Maxwell was arrested about 11 months after Epstein’s body was found hanging in the cell where he was awaiting trial. Authorities ruled the death a suicide.

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