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National
Jeffrey Epstein's attorneys propose home detention ahead of trial after sex trafficking arrest
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Jeffrey Epstein's attorneys propose home detention ahead of trial after sex trafficking arrest

Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein Accused of Sexually Abusing Dozens of Girls

Jeffrey Epstein's attorneys propose home detention ahead of trial after sex trafficking arrest

Attorneys for wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein on Thursday asked a judge to allow him to be held at his Manhattan mansion until his trial after authorities arrested him Saturday on sex trafficking charges.

>> Read more trending news 

Epstein pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy. He's accused of sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of girls as young as 14 between 2002 and 2005 at his estate in Florida and his mansion in New York.

In a letter filed Thursday in court, Epstein's attorneys said, "His conduct over the past 14 years proves that he poses no risk of flight or threat to the safety of the community."

"Even if the Court should have concerns to the contrary, there clearly exist a combination of conditions that would be sufficient to assure his presence as required and/or the safety of the community," the letter said.

Epstein's attorneys asked he be allowed to return to his home in Manhattan for detention until his trial and offered to put up a "substantial" bond to ensure his compliance with the proposed terms of his release. Among other things, Epstein's attorneys proposed he be fitted with a GPS device and said their client would agree to ground his private jet and to install surveillance cameras at the front and rear entrances of his Manhattan home.

Elizabeth Williams via AP
In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, center, listens as Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller, right, addresses the court during Epstein's arraignment, Monday, July 8, 2019 in New York.
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In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, center, listens as Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller, right, addresses the court during Epstein's arraignment, Monday, July 8, 2019 in New York.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Williams via AP
In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, center, listens as Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller, right, addresses the court during Epstein's arraignment, Monday, July 8, 2019 in New York.

Epstein's attorneys said he'd be willing to secure his bail with a mortgage on his mansion, "valued at roughly $77 million," and to put up his private jet as collateral.

Prosecutors have said Epstein poses a flight risk, and so he should be held without bond as his case winds its way through the federal court system.

"We think he's a significant flight risk," Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, told reporters Monday. "When you have two planes you live much of the year abroad, we think that's a very real risk."

Berman added the prosecutors believe Epstein "has every incentive to try to flee the jurisdiction."

"The charges are very serious and carry with them a maximum sentence of 45 years, which to someone of Epstein's age is basically a life sentence," Berman said.

Attorneys for Epstein noted in Thursday's letter that the 66-year-old owns only one private jet after selling the other last month. They added that he's already surrendered his passport and said that, as a condition of his release, he would agree not to seek another. He would also give his consent to be extradited back to the U.S. from any country.

"In essence, the government seeks to remand a self-made New York native and lifelong American resident based on dated allegations for which he was already convicted and punished," his attorneys wrote.

Epstein, a hedge fund manager who once hobnobbed with some of the world's most powerful people, avoided a possible life sentence in 2008 after he was accused of molesting girls in Palm Beach County, Florida. Federal prosecutors in the state offered him a non-prosecution agreement in exchange for his guilty plea to lesser charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution, according to The Associated Press.

The deal, which was overseen by then-U.S. attorney and current Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, has been heavily criticized since the Miami Herald published a series of in-depth stories on the case in 2018.

Acosta has faced growing calls for his resignation in light of the new charges filed against Epstein, however; he has defended his former office and claimed state prosecutors planned to drop the case against the wealthy businessman.

Barry Krischer, who was serving as the Palm Beach County state attorney at the time the deal was made, said Wednesday that Acosta's framing of the case was "completely wrong."

"If Mr. Acosta was truly concerned with the state's case and felt he had to rescue the matter, he would have moved forward with the 53-page indictment that his own office drafted," Krischer said.

Epstein is expected to appear in court at 10 a.m. Monday for a bail hearing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Webb doesn’t respond, so the officer with the ram begins striking the door. “Hold on, man, I’m getting dressed,” Webb calls. “Open the God-(expletive) door!” an officer yells back. The officer with the ram hits the door a fourth and final time as Webb tells officers he’s opening the door. “Hands. Let me see your hands,” an officer tells him as the door swings open. “Step out here. Step out.” “God (expletive),” Webb mutters, sounding annoyed, as the officers grab him and begin to pull him into the hallway, naked except for a pair of white socks. Two officers force him onto the ground and handcuff him as the rest swarm into the hotel room, guns drawn, in search of the girl. “Blood on the bed,” an officer notes as the beam of a police flashlight illuminates the room. A moment later, success. “Hey, here she is! Here she is!” an officer exclaims. The girl is seen rising from the plastic bin as the officer squats down to pick her up. Her small arms encircle his neck. “Got her! We got her! We got her!” another officer calls out in the video. Watch the footage below, courtesy of WFAA. Warning: The video may be difficult for some viewers. As the officers, out of breath but jubilant, radio in the news that the girl has been found and Webb is in custody, she is heard asking them about her clothes. “Don’t worry about your clothes,” an officer tells her. The officer wearing the body camera finds a towel to wrap around the girl. “Here you go, baby,” the officer says as he hands the towel to a colleague. They then head down the hotel stairwell with the girl. “Come here, sweetheart,” the officer says as he holds the door to the stairwell open. “You’re OK,” the officer carrying the girl says. “Yeah,” she responds. “You’re safe, we got you,” the officer continues as they begin their descent. “You’re going to be OK,” the officer filming the incident says. As they arrive in the parking lot of the hotel, the officers order two men in the parking lot to stand back. 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He came clean about two hours into the interview, telling Thompson and Heise they deserved the truth because they had “been nice to (him) considering what the (expletive) he did.” Crying at times, Webb told the investigators he arrived at the hotel with the girl around 8:30 p.m. after spending a couple of hours in the car in an empty church parking lot. He made her stay hidden on the front passenger floorboard of the vehicle, court records indicate. Webb admitted in his confession that he threatened the girl in an effort to keep her from telling police what he’d done to her. “What did you say to scare her, Michael?” Heise asks in the video. “I told her if she said anything, I would do something to her parents,” Webb says, sobbing. The girl told investigators that same threat is what kept her quiet the first time police showed up at the kidnapper’s hotel room looking for her. 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Court records in the case cite the hotel’s proximity to the interstate, making it a popular stopover for interstate travelers, as proof of that element of the kidnapping charge. Webb, who used Google maps on his cellphone to find the hotel, also drove along Interstate 35 and Interstate 20 to get there. “The cellphone, the internet and the interstate highways were used to facilitate and to further the commission of the offense because they helped Webb reach the hotel by the most direct route,” the documents say. The records and media reports describe how Webb, who was driving a gray Ford 500 registered to his mother, approached his victim and her mother twice as the pair walked along 6th Avenue in Fort Worth the evening of the abduction. According to the Star-Telegraph, the girl’s mother, who was not named to keep her daughter from being identified because of the sexual assault, testified at Webb’s September trial that he asked her upon his first approach if she wanted to get high. He also asked if she liked money, the woman said. Webb drove off but returned a short time later. That time, he got out of the car and grabbed her daughter, pushing the girl into the car through the driver’s door before climbing in after her. The girl’s mother tried to climb onto his lap to hit the brakes, but Webb was able to push her out of the car and speed away. In his confession, portions of which have been made public, Webb tells Thompson and Heise he “scoped (the neighborhood) out pretty good” in advance. Still, he said, he must have missed at least one witness. “When I pushed the woman and grabbed her, I heard somebody screaming. I heard somebody screaming,” Webb says in the video. That portion of the abduction was captured on a doorbell camera across the street from the scuffle. In the grainy footage, the girl’s mother can be seen falling to the asphalt as Webb drives off with her daughter. She gets up and runs down the street, screaming for help. “Help me! Help me, please!” the girl’s mother screams. “My daughter just got kidnapped!” Watch footage from the doorbell camera below, courtesy of ABC News. The homeowner of the home with the camera can be seen stopping in his yard and watching in alarm as the woman runs down the street. Webb’s car speeds off in the distance. The girl’s mother was equally frantic in her 911 call, which was obtained by ABC News. “A car, a gray car, just drove off. I think it was a handicap. He just kidnapped my daughter,” the panic-stricken woman tells the dispatcher. “He dragged me off the street and kidnapped my daughter.” The woman pleads with the dispatcher, describing the abductor as a scary man who had been harassing them. She says police need to find her daughter, now. “Please,” she tells the dispatcher. “I can’t let her be gone! Please!” A critical clue  Thompson, who works on the FBI’s Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking Task Force, told ABC News the doorbell camera that caught the tail end of the abduction was a lucky break. The camera is not designed to record any random movement in the street, like a car driving past. It kicked on when the homeowner stepped outside. “The person who owned the home, essentially, accidentally activated the Ring doorbell at that time,” Thompson told the network. The footage, which gave investigators a look at the kidnapper’s vehicle, was crucial. “The Ring doorbell video was the only piece of video that was available for this particular case. It was absolutely critical,” the FBI agent said. The girl’s mother was also able to give detectives a description of the man who snatched her daughter. News of the abduction spread quickly through Fort Worth-area media, leading several members of the community to aid in the search for the missing girl. Heise, who led her department’s investigation, also reached out to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security for assistance. Heise told ABC News each moment that went by without word of the girl’s whereabouts and safety felt heavy. “It felt like time was flying by and that I was moving so slow, and that I just could not move fast enough,” Heise told the network. “Because I knew we needed to move fast, and it just felt like I just couldn't get it done.” The detective said she was in a “state of shock” when she learned the girl had been found alive. “I was working as hard as I could to find this little girl, and I just couldn't believe that we had done it,” Heise said. “And in that moment, I just felt a great sense of gratitude to the community, because they did this. They did this. It wasn't us.” Matthew DeSarno, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas field office, said following Webb’s September conviction that he was proud of the collaboration of all those involved in the case, including his agency’s Child Exploitation Task Force and the Fort Worth Police Department’s Major Case Unit Task Force. He also thanked the citizen volunteers, who he said “worked tirelessly” to help bring the victim home to her family. “The critical role volunteer searchers and other members of the public played in recovering the victim cannot be overstated, and the FBI is grateful for their assistance,” DeSarno said. Following Webb’s sentencing Thursday, DeSarno said law enforcement and area residents took a dangerous predator off the streets. “Today’s sentence sends an important message to all predators,” the agent said. “We will not allow any crime against children to go unpunished.”
  • Moxie Kitchen and Cocktails at the Markets at Town Center will soon have a new name and a new menu. The restaurant announced on Facebook, that it will be changing its name to Prati Italia and will feature a new Italian menu, with handmade pastas, Roman-style pizzas, and craft cocktails.  Moxie Kitchen and Cocktails says a restaurant chain with an earlier registered variation of 'Moxie' has made plans to expand into the Florida market, prompting the changes.  However, the restaurant says it will keep the same chef, Chef Tom Gray, and team.  The grand opening for Prati Italia is set for mid-January. In the meantime, they will continue business as usual until the new year.
  • A man who was armed with a knife was shot multiple times by a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer on the northside this morning. As of a midday news briefing by JSO, the suspect was in critical condition at a hospital.  Police were called around 7:30 am about a suspicious person on Hawthorne Street near the Trout River.  Officers recognized the man as a suspect in a burglary in the same neighborhood on October 31st.  The man was standing in a yard with both hands in his pockets.  Chief TK Waters says two officers gave verbal commands for the man to show his hands.  “The suspect turned to run as officers approached. The suspect did remove his hands as he was running, they could not see it”, said Waters.  One of the officers deployed a taser and while the man fell to the ground, he was not incapacitated.  “As a second officer approached from a different direction, he fell to the ground in close proximity to the suspect. The suspect then turned toward the officer on the ground holding a knife in his right hand”, said Waters.  Officer RA Linde, an 11-year veteran with JSO, fired three times, striking the suspect. This is officer Linde’s first officer-involved shooting.  Both officers were wearing body cameras.  Police did not publicly release the suspect’s identity until his family is notified, however Chief Waters said the suspect has prior convictions for several burglaries as well as a drug conviction. 

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