MIAMI — Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide is a significant obstacle for federal prosecutors, who spent months painstakingly building a case against the multimillionaire who was charged in July with in New York federal court with sex trafficking of minors.
Now, the dozen or more new victims who came forward after Epstein’s July arrest will never get their day to face him in court. And what kind of financial compensation the future holds for them, if any, is uncertain.
In an indictment filed in the Southern District of New York in July, federal prosecutors laid out their intention to confiscate Epstein’s properties that were used to facilitate the sexual abuse of minor victims. However, his death poses a significant challenge in using asset forfeiture to provide restitution to the multimillionaire’s alleged victims.
“It going to be complicated,” former federal prosecutor Jeff Marcus said.
Under federal forfeiture laws, hard assets like homes can be sold and the proceeds put into a special fund within the Department of Justice. A judge determines what ultimately happens to the proceeds, but in cases with victims, restitution is generally a first consideration, said former federal prosecutor Silvia Piñera-Vazquez.
The federal indictment filed against Epstein in July identified his seven-story mansion on the Upper Eastside of Manhattan as the property set to be confiscated. (Other homes could have been added later.) It was there that authorities found evidence that Epstein allegedly abused numerous underage girls between 2002 and 2005, according to the indictment.
In her yearlong investigation of Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown tracked down more than 60 women who said they were victims of abuse and revealed the full story behind the sweetheart deal cut by Epstein’s powerhouse legal team.