By MICHAEL R. SISAK, JIM MUSTIAN and CURT ANDERSONAssociated Press
NEW YORK (AP) Financier Jeffrey Epstein awaits a bail hearing after pleading not guilty this week to sex trafficking charges in a case brought a decade after he secretly cut a deal with prosecutors to dispose of nearly identical allegations.
Epstein is accused of paying underage girls hundreds of dollars in cash for massages and then molesting them at various locations, including homes in Palm Beach, Florida, and New York from 2002 through 2005.
WHO IS JEFFREY EPSTEIN?
Epstein, 66, is a hedge fund manager who came to prominence in 2002 after shuttling former President Bill Clinton and other notables to Africa on his private jet for an AIDS relief mission.
Epstein owns a private island in the Caribbean, homes in Paris and New York City, a New Mexico ranch, and a fleet of high-price cars. His friends have included Clinton and President Donald Trump, both of whom said this week that they haven t seen Epstein in years and knew nothing of his alleged misconduct.
Under a 2008 non-prosecution agreement, Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges in Florida of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution. That allowed him to avert a possible life sentence, instead serving 13 months in a work-release program. He was required to make payments to victims and register as a sex offender.
Jeffrey Epstein, center, appears in court in West Palm Beach, Florida, in 2008. The wealthy financier pleaded not guilty in federal court in New York on Monday to sex trafficking charges following his arrest over the weekend. Epstein will have to remain behind bars until his bail hearing on July 15. (Uma Sanghvi/Palm Beach Post via AP, File)
HOW IS THIS CASE AGAINST JEFFREY EPSTEIN DIFFERENT FROM 11 YEARS AGO?
The new case charges Epstein with the federal crimes of sex trafficking and conspiracy, and a conviction could put him in prison for 45 years. The case, which sets the stage for another MeToo-era trial fraught with questions of wealth and influence, is being brought as scrutiny mounts against Alexander Acosta, Trump s labor secretary who oversaw Epstein s deal while U.S. Attorney in Miami.
Acosta defended the plea deal saying Wednesday it was the toughest deal he could get at the time.
We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail, Acosta said at a press conference he held amid calls for his resignation.
Federal prosecutors in New York acknowledged there is some overlap between the Florida and New York cases. It s not clear how much of the case involves the same acts or accusers; none of the alleged victims were identified in Monday s indictment.
WHAT IS A NON-PROSECUTION AGREEMENT?
A non-prosecution agreement is essentially a contract between prosecutors and a defendant in a criminal case. It typically entails a list of conditions a defendant must meet in exchange for a promise that he or she won t be indicted. Unlike typical plea bargains, these agreements are not made public.
For most people, a parallel would be a diversion program for a relatively minor offense, such as misdemeanor marijuana possession. The charges are dropped as long as the defendant meets a series of conditions, such as no further arrests. In Epstein s case, no federal charges were ever filed in Florida.
HOW DOES THAT AGREEMENT AFFECT JEFFREY EPSTEIN S CURRENT CASE?
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman says it doesn t. He contends the agreement that spared Epstein from a lengthy sentence a decade ago is binding only on federal prosecutors in Florida , where the deal was made.
Epstein s lawyers dispute that and call the allegations ancient stuff.
There are two parts of the agreement that are at issue.
The first states: Epstein seeks to resolve globally his state and federal criminal liability .
The U.S. is carved up into 94 federal judicial districts, each with its own separate federal prosecution office, known as a U.S. Attorney s office.
In most cases, a non-prosecution agreement only applies to the federal district where a case is being brought, meaning a defendant could still face charges from another district or a wing of the Justice Department....