Maxwell Seeks Release From Jail on a $5 Million Bond
(Bloomberg) -- Lawyers for former socialite Ghislaine Maxwell urged a U.S. judge to release her from federal prison after she posts a $5 million bond.
Maxwell won’t flee the country and faces health risks from the coronavirus at the New York jail where she’s being held, her attorneys said in a 22-page court filing Friday. They proposed that she be confined to her home and said six other people, including friends and siblings, will guarantee her bond. A federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments on bail July 14.
Maxwell, the daughter of late British publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, faces U.S. charges that she lured girls as young as 14 for sexual encounters with Jeffrey Epstein, her former associate and lover.
“Ghislaine Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein,” her lawyers wrote in the brief. “Ms. Maxwell vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence.”
Prosecutors in New York want to keep Maxwell, who has been in jail since her arrest on July 2, detained until her trial. They said she’s an “extreme” flight risk, has been in hiding since Epstein’s arrest and doesn’t have close ties in the U.S. Maxwell’s lawyers disputed all those claims in their filing.
“Far from ‘hiding,’ she has lived in the United States since 1991, has litigated civil cases arising from her supposed ties to Epstein, and has not left the country even once since Epstein’s arrest a year ago,” Maxwell’s lawyers said.
The lawyers also signaled they plan to mount “significant challenges” to the government’s case, claiming it’s barred by Epstein’s 2007 non-prosecution agreement with the Justice Department, which they said covers “any potential co-conspirators of Epstein.”
The prosecution is based on accounts of three victims whose allegations date back 25 years, her lawyers said.
“It is inherently more difficult to prosecute cases relating to decades-old conduct,” the attorneys wrote. “These issues further call into question the strength of the government’s case, and provide an independent basis justifying release on bail.”
Maxwell’s legal team also said that a count of conspiracy to entice minors was flawed because the government took too long to bring it and said they’d also seek the dismissal of perjury charges. And they disputed prosecutors’ claims that she faces decades in prison if convicted.
Even if found guilty on all the counts, she would likely get no more than 10 years in prison, her lawyers said.
The government claimed she’s a flight risk because she has three passports and the financial means to flee the country. However, her lawyers on Friday made the stunning disclosure that the day after Epstein’s arrest last July, through her lawyers, she contacted the U.S. Attorney’s office and has “maintained regular contact with them right up to the point of her arrest.”
Maxwell remained in the U.S. even after Epstein’s death in jail, an apparent suicide, and after several of his accusers began calling for her arrest and prosecution, her lawyers said. She would have even been willing to turn herself into the government for prosecution, they said.
”Had the government alerted her counsel that she was about to be arrested, we would have arranged for Ms. Maxwell’s prompt, voluntary surrender,” her lawyers wrote. “Instead, the government arrested Ms. Maxwell without warning on the day before the July 4th holiday, thus ensuring that she would be in federal custody on the one-year anniversary of Epstein’s arrest.”
Maxwell proposed she be permitted to remain free on bond, saying that the current Covid-19 pandemic puts her at risk of infection if she remains in custody and impairs her ability to consult with lawyers. The pandemic also prevents her from leaving the U.S. because international travel is currently restricted, they said.
Born in France, Maxwell was raised in the U.K. and became a U.S. citizen in 2002. She holds passports in all three countries. The European Union however isn’t allowing most citizens of the U.S. to travel to the region because of the pandemic.
Maxwell didn’t identify the people who are willing to co-sign her bond, saying she wanted to safeguard their privacy. She says she has strong ties to the U.S. because two of her sisters live in the country, as do their children.
Her lawyers proposed securing the bond with U.K. property worth $3.75 million and said she would agree to remain under house arrest under GPS monitoring and hire private security guards who would report to court authorities. Even convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff, who was also deemed a “serious risk of flight” by prosecutors, was later released to house arrest with GPS monitoring and private guards, they said.
Maxwell’s lawyers painted her as a victim of a media frenzy that followed Epstein’s death last August, including a 10,000 pound ($12,630) bounty offered by The Sun newspaper for information about her whereabouts. The spotlight has also drawn people who claim to speak for her but have no connection, including one individual who’s given “numerous television interviews” on U.K. news shows, they said.
“She has seen helicopters flying over her home and reporters hiding in the bushes,” they said.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.