Breaking: Well-connected billionaire Jeffrey Epstein arrested for molesting dozens of underage girls

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Julie K. Brown, Miami Herald

More than a decade after receiving one of the most lenient sentences for a serial sex offender in U.S history, multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested in New York, sources confirmed to the Miami Herald Saturday night.

A passerby said she saw about a dozen agents knock down the door of Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse around 5:30 p.m.

Epstein, 66, is expected to be arraigned in federal court in New York on Monday on charges that he molested dozens of underage girls in New York and in Florida, the sources said. His arrest, first reported by the Daily Beast, comes nearly two weeks after the Justice Department announced that it would not throw out his 2008 non-prosecution agreement, even though a federal judge ruled it was illegal.

Rumors had been circulating for months that Epstein was under investigation on sex charges in the Southern District of New York. It’s not clear what instances those investigations involved, and the Herald had not been able to confirm the status of the New York probe.

Sources said he was arrested by the FBI pursuant to a sealed indictment that will be unsealed on Monday. He is in custody in New York and a bail hearing is set for Monday.

“That bail hearing will be critical because if they grant him bail, he will disappear and they will never get him,’’ a source in New York told the Herald.

Last November, the Miami Herald published a series of stories, titled Perversion of Justice, that described the ways in which the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Alexander Acosta, worked in conjunction with Epstein’s lawyers to engineer the non-prosecution agreement — and keep it secret from Epstein’s victims. Acosta is now President Donald Trump secretary of labor.

Sources told the Herald that the indictment includes new victims and witnesses who spoke to authorities in New York over the past several months.

“Oh my God. Finally, finally, finally! Justice!’ said Michelle Licata, one of Epstein’s victims who was molested by him when she was 16 years old.

Epstein, who has homes in Manhattan, Palm Beach, New Mexico, Paris and in the U.S. Virgin Islands, sexually abused nearly three dozen girls, mostly 13-16 years old, at his Palm Beach mansion in 1999 to 2006, according to investigators. He used the girls to help recruit other young girls as part of an operation that ran similar to a pyramid scheme. He also had recruiters who helped with his appointments, scheduling as many as three or four girls a day, the FBI probe found.

Acosta met one-on-one with Epstein’s lawyer, Jay Lefkowitz, in October 2007, at a West Palm Beach Marriott. Records reviewed by the Herald showed that it was at that meeting that Acosta agreed to a non-prosecution agreement that gave Epstein and others involved in his operation federal immunity.

As part of the deal, Epstein was allowed to plead guilty to two state prostitution charges involving a 17-year-old girl, and he served 13 months in the Palm Beach County jail. The deal was sealed, however, so that no one — not even his victims — knew the details about the agreement until nearly a year later. By that time, Epstein had already been released.

This story will be updated as new information becomes available.

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