So on Friday I tackled the latest from the Miami Herald on the story of Jeffrey Epstein, the multimillionaire hedge fund manager and child sex trafficker, who got off with a slap on the wrist – 13 months in a county jail, with 6-days-a-week, 12 hours per day work release – thanks to a complicit prosecutor.
The horror for the rest of us is that the lead prosecutor for Miami, at that time, Alexander Acosta, is now the Secretary of Labor for the Trump administration.
Today, I want to get into the trial and the players surrounding this travesty of justice.
The best place to begin is in knowing that the judge was not allowed to know the extent of Epstein’s crimes. All she was shown was his specific charges, per the sweetheart deal he got from Acosta.
With dozens of middle school and high school-aged children sexually exploited by Epstein, he was only charged with one count of solicitation of prostitution and one count of procuring a person under the age of 18 for prostitution.
“Are there more than one victim?’’ Circuit Court Judge Deborah Dale Pucillo asked the prosecutor at Epstein’s sentencing on June 30, 2008.
“There’s several,’’ replied assistant state prosecutor Lanna Belohlavek.
“Are all the victims in both of these cases in agreement with the terms of this plea?’‘ Pucillo later asked.
“Yes,’‘ Belohlavek replied, telling the judge that she had spoken to “several” of Epstein’s victims.
What’s more, there are emails showing that the prosecutors – the prosecutors – did not want the judge to know the full extent of Epstein’s crimes.
Federal prosecutor A. Marie Villafaña — in a September 2007 email to Epstein lawyer Jay Lefkowitz — said: “I will mention co-conspirators but I would prefer not to highlight for the judge all the other crimes and all the other persons that we could charge.’’
Because they had no intentions of pursuing a network of pedophiles with connections to wealth and power.
Are you getting mad, yet?
If not, try this on for size:
Belohlavek, along with Epstein’s attorney, Goldberger, agreed that he would have to register as a sex offender, but his probation would be casual, with no urgency to follow the guidelines for the usual sex offender probation.
The judge did at least question why he would be serving his time in the county jail, rather than a state prison, as would those sex offenders without rich friends.
“We just decided that was the best way to accomplish what needed to be done here and the parties agreed that that sentence satisfied everyone’s requirements,’’ Goldberger replied.
Said Judge Pucillo: “The taxpayers of Palm Beach County are going to pay 18 months to house this guy instead of DOC [the Department of Corrections]?”
In the courtroom that day was another attorney, by the name of Spencer Kuvin. He knew Epstein was going to be in court that day, but he didn’t know why.
Kuvin represented one of Epstein’s victims, and he thought he could catch Epstein and serve him with civil papers.
He was flabbergasted by what he witnessed.
“I was shocked to learn that the proceeding involved my client’s case and there was nothing I could do except watch as they disposed of her case without ever telling her,’’ Kuvin said.
So did I mention that Epstein was allowed work detail release from jail, six days a week?
Yes, I did. This is the chummy part, that I’m sure will get your gag reflex going.
Jail logs showed that most of those nights, Epstein was free to stay at his office until 10pm, so, basically, he spent very little of his 13 months behind actual bars, living as a convicted pedophile, as is the norm for other sex offenders.
Also, he got to personally hire the Palm Beach sheriff’s deputies that would serve as the security detail for his stays at his office. He paid them by the hour.
One deputy who often worked Epstein’s detail said that his assignment was to stay in a front reception room of Epstein’s office. Epstein was in a separate office — with the door closed — most of the day as he accepted visitors, both male and female, the deputies’ logs show.
“It was not our job to monitor what he was doing in that office,’’ the deputy, now retired, told the Herald.
What was your job, as an officer of the law?
No matter. It doesn’t seem like anybody on the legal side of the issue were concerned with seeing justice served.
He was required to wear an ankle bracelet while outside the jail, but amazingly, he went from being called “inmate” in the logs kept by deputies to being called “client.”
He was allowed to sit outside in a park for lunch, scout for a new office, and just have a life.
How nice for him.
The work release was approved by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, said spokeswoman Therese Barbera.
“Jeffrey Epstein while in custody, met the criteria for the Work Release Program,’’ Barbera wrote in an email. “There was no factual basis to deny Mr. Epstein the same availability of this program that is offered to other inmates under similar circumstances. Mr. Epstein was closely monitored and there were no problems encountered during his time in the program.”
But the sheriff’s own work release policy — a copy of which Barbera provided to the Herald — specifically notes that sex offenders aren’t eligible for work release.
Epstein’s court paperwork has him listed as a sex offender, folks.
Still, Barbera doubted he was actually a sex offender, saying that didn’t kick in until his release. When her error was pointed out, she decided to stop talking, conveniently.
The Herald also checked to see if Epstein had been doing his court-required, twice-yearly check-ins for 2018. The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office shows that he’s checked in, in January and July, but there was also a check-in for the day the Herald had scheduled to go in and look at the registry, November 14.
State Sen. Lauren Book, a child sex abuse survivor and vocal advocate for tough sex offender monitoring, called the case an appalling example of how those in the justice system allow wealthy people to skirt the law and bend the rules.
“These prosecutors, and judges and sheriffs who are making these decisions and allowing things to fly — we have to hold these people accountable. They are supposed to uphold the law — regardless of who a person is and how much money they have in the bank or who they had on their airplane.’’
While Epstein is now enjoying life as a free man, with a brand new Gulfstream V jet, and spending most of his days at his property in the Virgin Islands, there are other members of his clan that never saw their lives disrupted, at all.
Two of the women who helped lure young girls into service to Epstein and the wealthy perverts surrounding him, Nadia Marcinkova and Sarah Kellen, decided to change their names and act as if nothing had ever happened.
Marcinkova, 32, briefly became Marcinko. She visited Epstein more than 70 times when he was in Palm Beach custody. She went on to a career in real estate. And she is now an FAA-certified commercial pilot and flight instructor who goes by the name “Global Girl’’ on social media. (www.facebook.com/GlobalGirlAviation/)
How nice for her.
Sarah Kellen, who used the name Kensington for a while, is now married to NASCAR driver Brian Vickers. The couple divides their time between homes in North Carolina, New York and Miami Beach.
I wonder if Brian Vickers has any idea about his wife’s connection to a wretched pedophile?
Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite who plucked at least one young girl from Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago estate and delivered her into Epstein’s hands, when the girl was only 16 years old, is now a well-known environmentalist.
She founded the TerraMar Project, a nonprofit that works to preserve the world’s oceans.
And all the water in the world won’t wash the stain of her complicity to child sexual abuse off of her.
Of course we know Alan Dershowitz is still out there, virtue signaling over the Russia probe currently vexing his pal, Donald Trump, when he, himself, has no virtue.
Courtney Wild, one of the many victims of Epstein’s perversion, has hopes that the day is coming soon when the Jeffrey Epsteins of the world will actually see real justice for their crimes.
Wild, who continues to fight her federal case on behalf of all of Epstein’s victims, said she hopes that the federal judge hearing the Crime Victims’ Rights case will make a ruling soon, one that will send a message to prosecutors who fail to consider the rights of crime victims.
“Really if you think about this too hard, it’s scary because this is our government that is supposed to protect us but has done everything to protect a pedophile,’’ she said.
The authorities in Palm Beach dropped the ball, in such a big way. What makes it most infuriating is that this was a deliberate action, where those tasked with protecting the public and adhering to the laws of the land worked with the perpetrator of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, for his benefit, and not for the rule of law or justice.