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Lawyers say wealthy sex offender owes $2m

Jeffrey Epstein is accused of violating an agreement with prosecutors. Jeffrey Epstein is accused of violating an agreement with prosecutors.
Associated Press / May 19, 2010

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MIAMI — Billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is violating an agreement with federal prosecutors by refusing to pay more than $2 million in legal fees to attorneys representing a dozen of his victims, according to a new federal lawsuit.

Epstein, a New Yorker who owns a Palm Beach mansion, a Paris apartment, a 70-acre Caribbean island, and a 7,500-acre New Mexico ranch, could ultimately face federal prosecution stemming from his alleged assaults on mostly teenage girls if he continues to refuse to pay the fees, the victims’ attorneys said yesterday.

“Put simply, Epstein believes he is above the law,’’ said attorneys Steve Marks and Peter Prieto of the Podhurst Orseck law firm in a statement.

One of the firm’s top lawyers, Robert Josefsburg, was appointed by federal prosecutors to represent 12 victims who filed civil lawsuits against Epstein. Under the deal Epstein signed with prosecutors in 2007, he would avoid federal charges and potentially lengthy prison sentences as long as he abided by several conditions, including paying fees for lawyers representing victims.

His failure to pay, according to the lawsuit, is a “material breach’’ of that agreement that could open the door to federal criminal prosecution, according to the lawsuit filed in Miami federal court late Monday.

Epstein, a 57-year-old investor, pleaded guilty in Palm Beach County in 2008 to two state prostitution counts and was designated a sex offender.

He was sentenced to 18 months in jail followed by a year of house arrest, which he is serving at his $6.8 million Palm Beach residence.

According to court documents, the FBI and federal prosecutors identified 33 young women and girls willing to testify that they were assaulted by Epstein, some beginning when they were only 14. Epstein had several older women who helped him find his victims, court documents show, and sometimes they the victims were also abused by others including unnamed “royalty, politicians, academicians, [and] businessmen,’’ and others who knew Epstein.

Some of the victims have reached confidential settlements of their lawsuits with Epstein.

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