Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

feedburner count TwitterCounter for @nimzoindy

Jeffrey Epstein pleads guilty to solicitation of prostitution


He lives in a Palm Beach waterfront mansion and has kept company with the likes of President Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew and Donald Trump, but investment banker Jeffrey Epstein will call the Palm Beach County jail home for the next 18 months.

Epstein, 55, pleaded guilty this morning to felony solicitation of prostitution and procuring a person under the age of 18 for prostitution. After serving 18 months in jail, he will be under house arrest for a year. And he will now have a lifelong obligation to register as a sex offender. He must submit to an HIV test within 48 hours, with the results being provided to his victims or their parents.

As part of the plea deal, federal investigators agreed to drop their pending investigation of Epstein, which they had taken to a grand jury, two law enforcement sources said.

Epstein was indicted two years ago following a lengthy investigation by Palm Beach police into allegations that he paid several underage girls $200 to $300 each in return for naked massages at his home on El Brillo Way that sometimes became sexual.

The indictment charged him only with felony solicitation of prostitution. The state attorney's office later added the additional charge of procuring underage girls for that purpose.

The case was controversial. Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter felt that State Attorney Barry Krischer was less than diligent in pursuing charges against Epstein and told him so. Epstein, in turn, hired a phalanx of high-priced lawyers - including Harvard law professor and author Alan Dershowitz - and public relations specialists who questioned Reiter's competence and the victims' truthfulness.

Assistant State Attorney Lanna Belohlavek said the plea was a good resolution to the case. "I took into consideration the length the trial would have been and witnesses having to testify" about sometimes embarrassing incidents.

Epstein arrived in court with at least three attorneys. He wore a blue blazer, blue jeans and white and gray sneakers. After Circuit Judge Deborah Dale Pucillo accepted the plea, he was fingerprinted. Epstein then removed his coat and was handcuffed for the trip to jail while his attorneys tried to shield him from photographers' lenses.

When he eventually is released from jail, Epstein will have to comply with numerous conditions of his house arrest. They include observing a 10 p.m.to 6 a.m. curfew, having no unsupervised contact with anybody under the age of 18 and not owning or possession pornographic or sexual materials "that are relevant to your deviant behavior," the judge said.

He also is not allowed to drive alone without his probation officer's permission, or volunteer anyplace where children may congregate, such as a school or a park.

Epstein's conduct with underage girls doesn't end with today's plea. There are four pending federal civil lawsuits and one in state court related to his behavior. At least one woman has sued him in New York, where he owns a Manhattan mansion.

"We think this is an extremely important event that will help the civil cases," said Miami attorney Jeffrey Herman, who represents three alleged victims in federal court. "It's validation of what we're saying in the civil cases."

West Palm Beach attorney Ted Leopold represents one alleged victim in a civil suit in state court. He said he anticipates amending that lawsuit to add "a few other clients" as well.