He is accused of running a child trafficking ring to provide him with girls as young as 14 for sex and nude massages at his homes in New York City and Florida between 2002 and 2005.
Under a controversial arrangement, he pleaded guilty more than 10 years ago to two prostitution charges, one involving a 14-year-old girl, according to the Miami Herald.
Prosecutors said Epstein owns two airplanes and has “extreme” wealth, although he has not answered the government’s questions about his property and other assets.
His holdings include homes in New Mexico, France and the Virgin Islands — where he owns both Little St. James and Great St. James islands — according to the Miami Herald. Prosecutors have credited the newspaper’s investigation with bringing to light details and accusations that led to the new charges.
Friends in high places
“I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy,” Donald Trump, long before he was President, told New York magazine in 2002.
“He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life,” Trump said.
The Harvard Crimson, which profiled Epstein in 2003 after he contributed $30 million to the school, described him as having a “bevy of eminent friends that includes princes, presidents and Nobel Prize winners.”
Multiple reports also describe his circle of friends as including former President Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prince Andrew and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz.
Epstein reportedly flew Clinton and actor Kevin Spacey in the early 2000s to Africa for HIV/AIDS work.
“I invest in people — be it politics or science. It’s what I do,” Epstein is quoted as telling New York magazine.
2008 plea deal
Those connections apparently played a role in his landing a plea deal with federal prosecutors in 2008 to dispense with charges similar to the ones he currently faces.
Epstein pleaded guilty to the two state-level prostitution charges, served only 13 months in prison and was released during the day to run his business.
The federal prosecutor who struck the deal was Alexander Acosta, who is now the labor secretary.
A Labor Department spokeswoman declined to comment to CNN, referring questions to the Justice Department, which also declined to comment.
At his confirmation hearing for the Cabinet post, Acosta defended the decision.
“At the end of the day, based on the evidence, professionals within a prosecutor’s office decide that a plea that guarantees that someone goes to jail, that guarantees that someone register generally and that guarantees other outcomes is a good thing,” Acosta said. He called that decision “broadly held” within the office.
The deal has come under scrutiny by the White House, which has not commented since announcing the review in March. The spokeswoman for Acosta declined to comment on it to CNN.
Wealth built from investment management
New York magazine reported that Epstein did not complete his bachelor’s degree and is described as a brilliant money manager. He is said to have landed the job on the recommendation of a student’s father while teaching math at Dalton, a college prep school in New York.
After a few years at Bear Stearns, he founded his own firm and exclusively took on clients worth more than $1 billion.
That wealth has played into prosecutors’ request for Epstein to remain behind bars while awaiting trial.