Epstein death shifts federal focus to possible conspirators

JIM MUSTIAN and MICHAEL R. SISAK
1 / 3

Sexual Misconduct-Epstein

United States Attorney General William Barr, listens to LaToya Cantrell, New Orleans mayor, during the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police's 64th National Biennial Conference at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on Convention Blvd. in New Orleans, La. Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. Barr said Monday that there were “serious irregularities” at the federal jail where Jeffrey Epstein took his own life this weekend as he awaited trial on charges he sexually abused underage girls. (David Grunfeld/The Advocate via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — In the wake of Jeffrey Epstein's suicide , federal prosecutors in New York have shifted their focus to possible charges against anyone who assisted or enabled him in what authorities say was his rampant sexual abuse.

Two days after the 66-year-old financier's death in a New York jail where he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, Attorney General William Barr warned on Monday that "any co-conspirators should not rest easy."

"Let me assure you that this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit," Barr said at a law enforcement conference in New Orleans. "The victims deserve justice, and they will get it."

Authorities are most likely turning their attention to the team of recruiters and employees who, according to police reports, knew about Epstein's penchant for underage girls and lined up victims for him. The Associated Press reviewed hundreds of pages of police reports , FBI records and court documents that show Epstein relied on an entire staff of associates to arrange massages that led to sex acts.

If any Epstein assistants hoped to avoid charges by testifying against him, that expectation has been upended by his suicide.

"Those who had leverage as potential cooperators in the case now find themselves as the primary targets," said Jacob S. Frenkel, a former federal prosecutor. "They no longer have anyone against whom to cooperate."

One possible roadblock to further charges is the controversial plea agreement Epstein struck more than a decade ago in Florida. The non-prosecution agreement not only allowed Epstein to plead guilty in 2008 to lesser state charges and serve just 13 months behind bars, it also shielded from prosecution several Epstein associates who allegedly were paid to recruit girls for him.

Federal prosecutors in New York, in charging Epstein last month , argued that the non-prosecution agreement is binding only on their counterparts in Florida.

But Gerald Lefcourt, a lawyer who negotiated the agreement, said the deal should still protect any alleged co-conspirators for what happened between 2001 and 2007.

"I would never have signed the agreement or recommended it unless we believed that it resolved what it said: all federal and state criminal liability," Lefcourt said Monday.

Police reports say Epstein's assistants worked like an advance team to facilitate his twice-daily massages, often from high school girls who were paid hundreds of dollars per "appointment." Epstein's personal assistant, Sarah Kellen, would call ahead to recruiters in Florida when Epstein was planning a trip to his Palm Beach mansion, the police reports say.

Kellen, who is among four women named in the non-prosecution agreement, would allegedly greet girls arriving at the mansion and escort them to a room with a massage table where Epstein would be waiting, wearing only a towel. A 2008 lawsuit in Florida accused Kellen of not only scheduling encounters between Epstein and an underage girl but of taking nude photographs of her.

Kellen now goes by the name Sarah Kensington and runs an interior design firm. Her attorneys did not respond to requests for comment.

Epstein's former girlfriend, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, was described in a 2017 lawsuit as the "highest-ranking employee" of Epstein's alleged sex trafficking enterprise. She oversaw and trained recruiters, developed recruiting plans and helped conceal the activity from law enforcement, the lawsuit said.

Representatives of Maxwell have not responded to requests for comment. In sworn statements, she has denied any wrongdoing.

Another woman named in the plea deal, Leslie Groff, was accused in a 2017 lawsuit of making travel arrangements for Epstein's alleged victims and taking steps to ensure the girls complied with "the rules of behavior imposed upon them by the enterprise."

Another alleged Epstein recruiter, Haley Robson, received $200 payments each time she escorted a new "masseuse" to Epstein's home, according to police reports. Robson targeted girls from the rural area outside Palm Beach, where she grew up, lawsuits alleged, because Epstein believed they were less likely to complain to the authorities.

Robson likened herself to the so-called Hollywood Madam, Heidi Fleiss, in an interview with Palm Beach police, and said Epstein once admonished her for bringing a 23-year-old recruit to his home.

"He told her the younger the better," a detective wrote in one police report.

Lawyers for those potential defendants are likely to seize on wording in Epstein's non-prosecution agreement that appears to tie the hands of the entire Justice Department when it comes to indicting co-conspirators, said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor in Miami who has followed the case closely.

He noted that the agreement states that "the United States" — not a specific prosecutor's office — agreed not to charge anyone who assisted Epstein.

"The argument that's going to be made by unindicted co-conspirators is that this paragraph was much broader than any other paragraph in the agreement," Weinstein said. "I would argue that this was a very broad grant of transactional immunity."

___

Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report.

  • Trump and Barr are making false claims about mail-in ballots to scare us out of voting
    USA TODAY Opinion

    Trump and Barr are making false claims about mail-in ballots to scare us out of voting

    Nevertheless, last month, when he wasn't busy ineffectually trying to replace the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan with a Trump loyalist, Attorney General William Barr took out after voting by mail as rife with fraud. In this, he was echoing his master, President Trump. In an interview he gave to Fox News, the attorney general said voting by mail “opens the floodgates to fraud.

  • Judge grants bond to ex-Atlanta cop charged with murder in Rayshard Brooks shooting
    USA TODAY

    Judge grants bond to ex-Atlanta cop charged with murder in Rayshard Brooks shooting

    ATLANTA – The former Atlanta police officer charged with fatally shooting Rayshard Brooks can be released on bond, a judge ruled Tuesday. Fulton County Judge Jane Barwick said she does not believe Garrett Rolfe is a flight risk or would intimidate witnesses. Barwick set Rolfe's bond at $500,000.

  • Brain-eating amoeba: Warning issued in Florida after rare infection case
    BBC

    Brain-eating amoeba: Warning issued in Florida after rare infection case

    A case of a rare brain-eating amoeba has been confirmed in Florida, according to health officials in the US state. The Florida Department of Health (DOH) said one person in Hillsborough County had contracted Naegleria fowleri. The microscopic, single-celled amoeba can cause an infection of the brain, and is usually fatal.

  • Why U.S. F-35s, Stealth Bombers and Attack Drones Could Fail in a War
    The National Interest

    Why U.S. F-35s, Stealth Bombers and Attack Drones Could Fail in a War

    Fighter jets, stealth bombers, attack drones and air-traveling missiles all need to “operate at speed” in a fast-changing great power conflict era. When faced with fast, multi-frequency, long-range precision fire from enemy air defenses, air attackers simply must “operate at speed,” according to U.S. Air Forces, Europe Commander General Jeffrey Harrigian, who used the phrase in a discussion with The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. Harrigian, who is also now the Commander of U.S. Air Forces Africa, ran much of the air campaign during Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS; he offered a first-hand war perspective in a conversation with retired Lieutenant General David Deptula, Dean of the Mitchell Institute.

  • Biden evokes MLK and George Floyd in Fourth of July message
    CBS News

    Biden evokes MLK and George Floyd in Fourth of July message

    Evoking the names of Martin Luther King and George Floyd, Joe Biden said Saturday that the U.S. "never lived up" to its founding principle that "all men are created equal." In the Fourth of July video message, Biden said that even though America had fallen short of equality, the effort to live up to the nation's founding ideals continues. It survived the ravages of the Civil War, the dogs of Bull Connor, the assassination of Martin Luther King, and more than 200 years of systemic racism.

  • Constitutional changes are the 'right thing' for Russia: Putin
    Reuters

    Constitutional changes are the 'right thing' for Russia: Putin

    President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday constitutional amendments approved in a nationwide vote created the conditions for Russia's "progressive development" for decades to come. One of the changes approved in the week-long vote that ended on July 1 makes it possible for Putin to seek two more terms as president and, if re-elected, to stay in power until 2036. Other changes grant former presidents immunity from prosecution, enshrine a reference in the constitution to God, offer pensions protection and define marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

  • An asymptomatic coronavirus carrier infected an apartment neighbor without sharing the same space. A study blames the building's elevator buttons.
    Business Insider

    An asymptomatic coronavirus carrier infected an apartment neighbor without sharing the same space. A study blames the building's elevator buttons.

    According to a new study, transmission likely occurred in the elevator, when the neighbor touched the same buttons that the quarantined traveler had. The neighbor was later linked to 70 other coronavirus infections in the local community. Coronavirus particles can live on surfaces like plastic and stainless steel, which are common in elevators, for up to seven days.

  • ‘They feel invincible’: how California’s coronavirus plan went wrong
    The Guardian

    ‘They feel invincible’: how California’s coronavirus plan went wrong

    People began to fixate on individual liberties without understanding that one of the most fundamental civil liberties in the US is the right to health Lee Riley In Orange county, where more than 15,000 people have been infected, health director Nichole Quick resigned in mid-June after being confronted with a banner depicting her as a Nazi, protests outside her house and personal threats. Quick had issued an order requiring residents to wear masks in public, which the county sheriff insisted he wouldn't enforce. After she became the third high-level health official in Orange county to quit, the county quickly reversed Quick's order – recommending, but not insisting that residents wear masks.

  • English pubs reopen but little normal elsewhere in the world
    Associated Press

    English pubs reopen but little normal elsewhere in the world

    Pubs, hair salons and movie theaters across England reopened Saturday as part of Britain's biggest step toward post-outbreak normal, while South Africa and other parts of the world signaled anything but — reporting another day of record confirmed coronavirus cases. Many people relished the easing of restrictions on public life that had shuttered U.K. restaurants and bars, although a trade group estimated that only about half of England's pubs elected to open on the first possible day. “Let's not blow it now,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said as some in England rushed to restaurants or barbers for the first time in more than three months.

  • Rockets target US interests despite arrests: Iraq military
    AFP

    Rockets target US interests despite arrests: Iraq military

    Two rocket attacks targeted American diplomatic and military installations overnight, Iraq's security forces said Sunday, a little over a week since unprecedented arrests prevented a similar incident. Since October, US diplomats and troops across Iraq have been targeted by around three dozen missile attacks which Washington has blamed on pro-Iranian armed factions. In the first move of its kind, elite Iraqi troops in late June arrested more than a dozen Tehran-backed fighters who were allegedly planning a new attack on Baghdad's Green Zone, home to the US and other foreign embassies.

  • To send a message to China, President Trump should visit Taiwan
    USA TODAY Opinion

    To send a message to China, President Trump should visit Taiwan

    Communist China has officially taken over Hong Kong. The passage on Tuesday of Beijing's so-called “national security law” effectively absorbs the formerly autonomous city in the totalitarian system of the Chinese mainland, threatening its freedoms with extinction. Everyone is now looking to the United States — the leader of the free world — for a strong and principled response.

  • NBC News

    Police clear officer who appeared to flash white power sign at Oregon protest

    The Oregon State Police on Sunday cleared a trooper who appeared to make a white power symbol during a Black Lives Matter protest in Salem, Oregon, over the weekend. In a statement, authorities said the trooper made the gesture after seeing a skirmish during the event at the Oregon Capitol on Saturday. The officer then walks towards one of the counter-protesters and flashes the "OK" hand gesture, which is used among extremist circles to signal "white power," according to the Anti Defamation League.

  • Applebee’s employee dies in parking lot while celebrating July 4, Texas police say
    Miami Herald

    Applebee’s employee dies in parking lot while celebrating July 4, Texas police say

    A Fourth of July celebration in Texas came to a tragic end when a woman fell from a moving vehicle in an Applebee's parking lot and died early Sunday, officials say. Around 12:30 a.m., police said a 24-year-old Applebee's employee and some of her coworkers decided to set off fireworks in the Houston restaurant's parking lot after closing for the night, KHOU reported. The 24-year-old woman and an 18-year-old friend stood on the rear bumper, KPRC reported.

  • Predominantly Black armed protesters march through Confederate memorial park in Georgia
    Yahoo News Video

    Predominantly Black armed protesters march through Confederate memorial park in Georgia

    A predominantly Black group of heavily armed protesters marched through Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta on Saturday, calling for removal of the giant Confederate rock carving at the site that civil rights activists consider a monument to racism.

  • Reuters

    Rocket Lab vehicle fails to reach orbit, loses payload of satellites

    "An issue was experienced today during Rocket Lab's launch that caused the loss of the vehicle," the company said on Twitter, adding more information will be shared as available. Rocket Lab is one of a growing group of launch companies looking to slash the cost of sending shoebox-sized satellites to low Earth orbit, building smaller rockets and reinventing traditional production lines to meet a growing payload demand. It was aiming to send five tiny Earth imaging satellites from Planet Labs, one microsatellite from Canon Electronics Inc., and a cubesat from British company In-Space Missions into a sun-synchronous orbit 310 miles above Earth.

  • Florida and Texas both hit record highs for new coronavirus cases on Saturday as outbreaks keep surging in the South
    Business Insider

    Florida and Texas both hit record highs for new coronavirus cases on Saturday as outbreaks keep surging in the South

    mpi04/MediaPunch/MediaPunch/IPx via AP Florida and Texas both recorded daily records for new coronavirus cases on Saturday as outbreaks in the South continue to spiral. Florida reported 11,458 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the state's total to 190,052. Texas reported 8,258 new cases, which brings the state's total to 191,790.

  • Katsina: The motorcycle bandits terrorising northern Nigeria
    BBC

    Katsina: The motorcycle bandits terrorising northern Nigeria

    Motorcycle-riding armed bandits operating out of abandoned forest reserves are ransacking communities in Nigeria's north-west. The groups are the latest to join Nigeria's lucrative kidnap for ransom industry, and are quite brazen in their operations. In the last decade more than 8,000 people have been killed in the states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Niger and Zamfara, according to the International Crisis Group.

  • This Chinese Submarine Could Drop a Nuclear Weapon on America
    The National Interest

    This Chinese Submarine Could Drop a Nuclear Weapon on America

    Here's What You Need To Remember: The nuclear submarine club is indeed a highly exclusive club—and those with nuclear ballistic missiles even more so. China's Type 094, or Jin-class nuclear submarines are capable, but they may be tools for promoting national prestige rather than true nuclear deterrence. The Type 094, or Jin-class as it is also known, is operated by the People's Liberation Army Submarine Force.

  • US aircraft carriers conduct drills in South China Sea
    AFP

    US aircraft carriers conduct drills in South China Sea

    Two US aircraft carriers have carried out drills in the South China Sea, a US Navy spokesman said Saturday, after the Pentagon expressed concerns over Chinese military exercises around a disputed archipelago. The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan conducted dual carrier operations in the waterway to "support a free and open Indo-Pacific," the spokesman said. The drills came as the Pentagon said it was "concerned" about Chinese military exercises in the South China Sea, warning the manoeuvres will "further destabilise" the region.

  • Bolton: Trump claim he wasn’t told of Russia bounty report is 'not how system works’
    The Guardian

    Bolton: Trump claim he wasn’t told of Russia bounty report is 'not how system works’

    Donald Trump's claim not to have been briefed about intelligence suggesting Russia paid Taliban-linked militants to kill US soldiers is “just not the way the system works”, former national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday. Elsewhere, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice said Bolton would have known about the bounties intelligence while he was in the role, which he left in September 2019, and would therefore have briefed Trump himself. I don't buy this story that he was never briefed,” Rice told NBC's Meet The Press.

  • Despite precautions, summer camps have failed to keep out the coronavirus
    NBC News

    Despite precautions, summer camps have failed to keep out the coronavirus

    As summer camps debated whether and how to operate during the coronavirus pandemic this spring, Kanakuk Kamps, a prominent network of Christian sports camps in Missouri, announced that its five overnight camps would open to over 20,000 kids starting May 30. Parents got an email from Rebecca Duncan, Kanakuk's health services director, advising them that their children may have been exposed: "As your Kamper returns home, we recommend that you consider a 14-day self-quarantine for your child and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19."

  • South Carolina: Two dead and eight injured after US nightclub shooting
    The Independent

    South Carolina: Two dead and eight injured after US nightclub shooting

    Two people have died and eight have been injured after a shooting at a nightclub in South Carolina in the early hours of Sunday, a sheriff's official said. A pair of Greenville County sheriff's deputies noticed a disturbance at Lavish Lounge just before 2am, and saw a large crowd running out of the building, Sheriff Hobart Lewis said at a press conference. There was "active gunfire from inside the building", Lieutenant Jimmy Bolt said in an initial statement, and Mr Lewis said all the shots were fired inside.

  • Army Specialist Killed in Afghanistan Vehicle Rollover Accident
    Military.com

    Army Specialist Killed in Afghanistan Vehicle Rollover Accident

    A 21-year-old soldier from Texas was killed Friday in southwestern Afghanistan, Pentagon officials announced Saturday night. Spc. Vincent Sebastian Ibarria, of San Antonio, died in a vehicle rollover in Farah, Afghanistan, near the Iranian border, officials said.

  • COVID-19 could lead to increase in tick-borne illness, experts say. Here’s why
    Miami Herald

    COVID-19 could lead to increase in tick-borne illness, experts say. Here’s why

    As if you needed anything else to worry about in 2020, summer is here — which means tick season is, too. While experts say ticks are expected to be about average this year, they say the U.S. may see an uptick in Lyme disease cases due to the coronavirus pandemic. While experts don't expect to see more ticks than usual this year, 2021 could be a different story, Richard Ostfeld, a distinguished senior scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, told The New York Times.

  • I flew on the 4 biggest US airlines during the pandemic to see which is handling it best, and found one blew the rest out of the water
    Business Insider

    I flew on the 4 biggest US airlines during the pandemic to see which is handling it best, and found one blew the rest out of the water

    Deplaning Thomas Pallini/Business Insider Flight attendants on American are typically asking passengers to remain seated until it is time for their row to deplane. Delta Air Lines Blocking middle seats or allowing free flight changes Thomas Pallini/Business Insider Delta is blocking middle seats and certain aisle seats on its flights until September 30. Passengers who still do not wish to travel on a crowded flight even with the capacity restriction will have the option to request a free rebooking to a later flight, a Delta spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider.