Did Manhattan DA Go Easy on Mogul Said to Have Procured Underage Woman for Prince Andrew?

UPDATED: 6:43 Jan. 6, 2015

The billionaire money manager accused of supplying underage girls to Prince Andrew, Queens Elizabeth’s second son, and to renowned defense attorney Alan Dershowitz was given inexplicably lenient treatment by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in a 2011 sex offender registration proceeding, according to the judge who presided over the case.

On Jan. 3, the New York Times reported the new filing in the federal court for the Southern District of Florida against Jeffrey E. Epstein, who was the subject of the New York registration proceeding.

According to the Times article, Buckingham Palace took the unusual step of issuing a statement that “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.” Dershowitz also “categorically and unequivocally” denied the allegations and said he would file disbarment proceedings against the lawyer who filed the Florida lawsuit.

In the 2011 sex offender registration proceeding, Judge Ruth Pickholz took Manhattan prosecutor Jennifer Gaffney to task for recommending a Level 1 status for Epstein when the board established by New York’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) recommended that he be classified in the most dangerous category, Level 3.

According to the court transcript of the Jan. 18, 2011 proceeding, Pickholz told Gaffney, in reference to the Level 1 recommendation, “I have never seen the prosecutor’s office do this. I have to tell you, I am shocked.”

When Epstein appealed his classification to the Appellate Division in Manhattan, the Manhattan office reversed its position and argued for an affirmance of Pickholz’ Level 3 classification. In a unanimous opinion, the First Department ruled that Pickholz had properly relied on a probable cause affidavit prepared by Florida law enforcement authorities.

The unsigned opinion described the affidavit as “extremely detailed” and including “sworn, tape recorded statements of the victims” which were corroborated by each other. The panel also noted the affidavit recounted statements against penal interest made by Epstein’s accomplice.

The appeals panel took note of the fact that the District Attorney’s office had taken a “different position” on appeal in rejecting Epstein’s claim that its position before Pickholz estopped it from arguing otherwise on the appeal. Epstein was sentenced to 18 months with liberal work release provisions and required to register as a sex offender in the 2008 Florida case, which involved a plea to procuring a single underage woman for purposes of prostitution.

New York Magazine has reported that Ace Greenberg, the high flying financier, jump started his financial career plucking him out of obscurity as a young man when he was teaching at Dalton School; that in 2002 he flew former President Bill Clinton in his private 727 jet to Africa to promote his foundation’s anti-AIDs efforts; that his patron and mentor was Leslie Wexner, founder of the Limited chain of women’s clothing stores; that he is close to socialite Ghislane Maxwell, the socialite daughter of deceased media magnate Robert Maxwell; and is a friend of Donald Trump.

According to news articles, Epstein’s primary home is a mansion with guesthouses in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and he also owns a villa in Palm Beach, Fla., and a 10,000 acre ranch in Santa Fe.

Epstein was required to register as a sex offender in order to travel to his “vacation” home in New York, which is a nine-story mansion just off Fifth Avenue overlooking the Frick Collection. As a Level 3 offender he is required to travel to New York every 90 days to renew his registration.

According to a New York Times article published in 2006, the police in Palm Beach questioned the procedures that the prosecution there used to charge Epstein with only pressing one underage victim into prostitution when there was evidence that he had repeated that conduct with other young girls. The article reported that the police chief in Palm Beach had accused the county prosecutor there of giving special treatment to Epstein and called for his removal from the case.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, however, in its brief to the First Department attributed its error to “the mistaken notion that only sexual conduct for which defendant had been formally charged could be considered” in setting the Epstein’s sex offender level.”



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