Federal prosecutors apparently aren’t rushing to seize the Palm Beach mansion that convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has owned for nearly 30 years.
Federal prosecutors may seize a New York mansion from Epstein after hitting the billionaire with a new indictment on sex trafficking charges last week.
Prosecutors seek permission to seize property Epstein allegedly used to commit crimes. They charged Epstein with paying underage girls to perform sexual acts at his Manhattan and Palm Beach homes.
The indictment identifies his 21,000-square-foot Manhattan townhouse at 9 East 71st Street as a home owned Epstein’s company Maple Inc. and valued at $77 million.
But the indictment unsealed Monday includes neither the address nor a legal description of his Palm Beach mansion, raising questions about whether the new charges will lead directly to a government seizure of the estate at 358 El Brillo Way, near President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago.
The Palm Beach mansion is owned by Epstein-controlled Laurel Inc. and valued at $12.5 million for tax purposes. Epstein bought the two-story residence in 1990 for $2.5 million.
Miami-based criminal defense attorney Brian Tannebaum said the absence of detailed information about the Palm Beach mansion in the indictment may indicate that federal prosecutors are hesitant to seize and try to sell the waterfront estate.
“It’s a lot easier to sell a Ferrari or jewelry or a collection of wine than a multimillion-dollar house,” Tannebaum told the Post. “A home is a risk to forfeit.”
The federal government usually will put detailed information about a property in an indictment when it wants to seize that property as part of a criminal case, former federal prosecutor Bruce Zimet, now an attorney in private practice in Fort Lauderdale, told the Palm Beach Post.
Zimet also told the Post that the absence of details about the Palm Beach mansion in the new indictment of Epstein by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York “might be an indication they’re trying to segregate the New York case from the Florida case.”
More than a decade ago, federal prosecutors in Florida entered into a controversial non-prosecution agreement with Epstein. He pleaded guilty to two prostitution charges in 2008 after Alex Acosta, then the U.S. Attorney in southern Florida, agreed to end a federal investigation of him.
Epstein then served 13 months of an 18-month sentence and retained ownership of his home in Palm Beach, and during his sentence, he was allowed to leave his cell at the Palm Beach County Jail for 12 hours a day, six days a week.
Acosta resigned Friday as Secretary of Labor amid widespread criticism of his decision to end a federal investigation of Epstein in exchange for his guilty pleas. [Palm Beach Post] – Mike Seemuth