Information that could shed light on jailed financier Jeffrey Epstein’s wealth will be kept secret ahead of a Monday bail hearing in his sex trafficking case in New York, a judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman said Friday that Epstein’s lawyers can file documents related to his finances under seal, keeping them out of the public docket.
Prosecutors complained to Judge Berman in a letter on Thursday that Mr. Epstein’s lawyers hadn’t filed the paperwork, making it impossible to “meaningfully respond” to their argument that he should be held on house arrest pending trial.
Judge Berman rejected prosecutors’ request for more time to file their response beyond the 5 p.m. Friday deadline.
The judge wrote his denial on a copy of the prosecution letter: “Hard to imagine it would take the government extra time to review submission.”
Mr. Epstein, 66, pleaded not guilty this week to charges alleging he recruited and abused dozens of underage girls at his mansions in New York and Palm Beach, Fla., in the early 2000s.
The case is being brought more than a decade after Mr. Epstein secretly cut a deal with prosecutors to dispose of nearly identical allegations.
The 2008 non-prosecution agreement allowed Mr. Epstein to plead guilty to state charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution instead of facing federal charges. He served 13 months in jail, was required to reach financial settlements with dozens of his alleged victims and register as a sex offender.
Prosecutors in the case in New York argue that Mr. Epstein is a significant flight risk and want him held without bail pending trial. They say he has three active U.S. passports and has frequently travelled in and out of the country on his private jet.
Mr. Epstein’s lawyers favour house arrest with electronic monitoring at his US$77-million Manhattan mansion, saying prosecutors were making a “drastic demand” in asking that he be jailed until trial.
In a court filing, Mr. Epstein’s lawyers argued that he had long lived with the fear that federal prosecutors might pursue sexual-abuse charges against him again and had never sought to flee the country.
The new charges have brought renewed attention to Mr. Epstein. On Friday, the New Mexico Attorney-General’s office said it was investigating charges against the financier, who owns a ranch south of Santa Fe. The office is interviewing people who say they were victims of Mr. Epstein and plans to forward any evidence to federal authorities, spokesman Matt Baca said in an e-mailed statement.
An e-mail seeking comment was sent to a lawyer for Mr. Epstein.