The investigation into Jeffrey Epstein was broader than previously known, and involved an allegation of recent travel with girls, newly released documents show.
Before Jeffrey Epstein's arrest in July on sex-trafficking charges, federal authorities were looking into an allegation that he was seen as recently as November exiting his private jet in the United States Virgin Islands with girls who appeared to be underage, newly released documents show.
The documents also show that the United States Marshals Service was investigating whether Epstein had failed to report his international travel, as he was required to do as a registered sex offender.
The marshals service documents, which were obtained by the investigative website MuckRock, indicated that the federal investigation into Epstein was broader than previously understood at the time of his arrest on July 6 and his death a month later, when he hanged himself in a Manhattan jail cell.
A federal indictment unsealed against Epstein in July charged that he had engaged in sex-trafficking of underage victims in Florida and New York between at least 2002 and 2005. It said Epstein, 66, had recruited dozens of girls for sex, after which he paid them hundreds of dollars in cash.
The newly released documents indicated that the marshals service began looking into Epstein's foreign travel reporting at least as early as January at the behest of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, which was overseeing the Epstein investigation.
Although Epstein's suicide ended the criminal case against him, it did not end the government's broader investigation.
Attorney General William Barr and Geoffrey S. Berman, the US attorney in Manhattan, each have indicated that the authorities are continuing to investigate potential co-conspirators in Epstein's alleged sex-trafficking scheme.
A spokesman for Berman and a lawyer who had represented Epstein each had no comment Sunday. Kevin R. Kamrowski, a deputy US marshal in Manhattan, said the agency was aware of the documents, which were published online. But, he added, "Some of the documents released were part of an active investigation and at this time we're not making any additional comments."
According to the documents, Berman's office referred Epstein to the marshals service as a convicted sex offender who "may have not reported all his international travel as required."
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Epstein was required to register for life as a sex offender as part of a widely criticised deal he reached in 2008 with the US attorney's office in Miami, through which he avoided federal prosecution there on sex-trafficking charges. (He was allowed to plead guilty to state charges of procuring a minor for prostitution and soliciting prostitution. He served 13 months in jail, but was allowed to leave six days a week on work-release.)
The documents show that in mid-March of this year, Epstein filed a notification of travel with a sex-offender registry office in the Virgin Islands. A few days later, the marshals service received a notification from the registry that he was traveling to France via his private jet.
According to a public website that tracks flight activity, Epstein travelled that month to Austria and Monaco — but neither country had been listed in his notification form.
The documents show that later, in July, investigators asked federal prosecutors to submit legal requests for information from France, Monaco, Austria and Morocco.
The marshals also received information from the FAA revealing "numerous more countries of international travel by Epstein's jet," the documents show.
According to the documents, the marshals service also pursued an allegation from an air-traffic control employee, apparently based in the Virgin Islands, that Epstein might have been traveling with girls. The controller told the marshals service that Epstein parked his plane at the base of the control tower when he arrived, the documents show.
The employee said she had seen Epstein on two occasions get off the plane last year sometime between June or July and as late as November, once with girls who appeared to be 11 or 12 years old and another time with one who looked as young as 16, the document said.
The marshals wrote that they had obtained the controller's name and number on June 24 — two weeks before Epstein's arrest — from a reporter for the Miami Herald, which last November ran an acclaimed investigation by Julie K. Brown into the handling of Epstein's 2008 plea in Florida.
The marshals wrote that they had asked to meet with the reporter, whose name was redacted in the documents, to see if she knew of anyone with information about Epstein.
The Herald, in an article Friday, confirmed Brown had met with a marshal but said the document was in error, and that she had not provided the marshals service with the name of a source; indeed, she did not know the controller's name at the time, and she "knew of the then-unidentified person's existence only through a third party," the Herald said.
After learning later of the controller's identity, Brown tried unsuccessfully to interview the woman on the record, the article noted. The controller said she would only talk with the marshals, provided they initiated the contact. At the controller's direction, Brown passed her information to the marshals on July 9, three days after Epstein's arrest. The marshals interviewed her the next day, the documents show.
Brown "acted totally appropriately," Casey Frank, the Herald's senior editor for investigations, said by phone Sunday. "This is all by the book."
Written by: Benjamin Weiser
Photographs by: Gabriella N. Baez
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