A titillating sex scandal in Palm Beach, Florida, which has resulted in the indictment of a mysterious “money manager” for billionaires — who declares the U.S. Virgin Islands as his legal residence for tax purposes — in a prostitution case involving teenage girls has washed up on the shores of his USVI home on the 100-acre private island of Little St. James.
Jeffrey Epstein, 53, who was the target of an almost year-long investigation by Palm Beach police of “unlawful sexual activity” at his Florida mansion involving teenage girls procured by his employees to perform massages, was charged with one count of soliciting a prostitute, a third degree felony, in July 2006.
Celebrity Defense Attorneys
After initial reports of the intensive investigation surfaced in early 2006, a high-powered team of celebrity defense attorneys including Alan Dershowitz and Roy Black discredited the affidavits of a number of the high school-age girls, one as young as 14 years old, who claimed they were hired to perform massages on Epstein in their underwear or naked and subjected to sexual advances and sex acts.
“Sworn taped statements were taken from five victims and seventeen witnesses concerning massages and unlawful sexual activity that took place at the residence of Jeffrey Epstein,” according to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case by the Palm Beach Police Department.
“On 03/15/2005, a fourteen year old white female… … and her family reported unlawful sexual activity which occurred at a residence within the Town of Palm Beach,” the police affidavit continued. “(The victim) reported that a subject known to her as ‘Jeff’ had touched her vaginal area with a vibrator/massager while within his residence. ‘Jeff’ was later identified as Jeffrey Epstein through a photo line up.”
Epstein’s legal team reported the financier passed a lie detector test affirming he did not know any of the girls were under age. A grand jury returned only one indicment for solicitation.
Palm Beach police monitored Epstein’s activities, including the comings and goings of his private 727 jet, for almost a year after receiving a complaint from the parents of the 14-year-old girl in March 2005 about sexual activity at his Palm Beach mansion.
The Chief of the Palm Beach Police Department has criticized prosecutors for filing only one charge against Epstein despite months of investigation by his department and more than 100 pages of depositions from the alleged victims.
The detective who led the investigation — who told St. John Tradewinds he never visited the USVI as part of his work on the case — declined to comment when contacted October 25.
Helicoptering to Little St. James
Epstein traveled by private jet to St. Thomas and by helicopter and private launch to Little St. James, according to one worker on on-going construction projects at the private island. A giant American flag flies from a towering flag pole on the island whenever Epstein is in residence on the island he bought for less than $10 million in the 1990s.
“There were always pretty young girls around,” the source told St. John Trade-winds. “I don’t know how young they were, but there were a lot of them.”
The high-powered motor launch which transports guests to and from Little St. James is sometimes seen at the V.I. National Park dock on St. John and one St. John resident reported seeing the boat — with numerous pretty young girls on board — at the beachfront compound owned by a wealthy Connecticut financier on the north shore of St. John in the V.I. National Park.
Campaign Money Returned
While several major political candidates in New York, Connecticut and New Mexico returned campaign contributions to Epstein after details of the criminal investigation first became known in April 2006, Epstein’s connection to a U.S. Virgin Islands politician surfaced just weeks before the upcoming election in a story in the St. Croix Avis on October 22.
Epstein, who declares the USVI as his residence as a participant in the territory’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) program to secure significant tax breaks, employs the wife of Democratic nominee for USVI Governor John deJongh as director of the charitable foundation he funds as a requirement of the EDA program.
Ironically, the only published report of Cecile deJongh’s relationship with Ep-stein came in a March 2006 coverage of a physics symposium for several hundred high school students on St. Thomas by the V.I. Daily News and an on-line St. Thomas news service. Cecile deJongh was identified at the time as “Director of the J. Epstein Virgin Islands Foundation.”
“I understand these questions have to be asked,” deJongh told the St. Croix Avis when asked about his wife’s continued employment by Epstein’s foundation.
“It’s just a job, that’s all,” said deJongh, who has waged a strong anti-crime campaign. “ I think it’s highly appropriate she continue there.”
The St. Croix Avis report has been criticized by deJongh supporters and members of the St. Thomas media as “yellow journalism” and politically-motivated. A guest writer for the V.I. Daily News, in an October 25 column headlined “DeJongh camp should ignore 11th-hour ‘dirty tricks’ smear,” called the St. Croix Avis report “below-the-belt journalist bushwhacking.”
Case Turned Over To FBI
The Florida case has been turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), according to Palm Beach Police Detective Joe Recarey. The FBI in Palm Beach could not be reached for information on whether their investigation would include Epstein’s transportation of young women to the USVI or the financier’s residency or EDA tax status in the USVI.
Epstein’s residency in the USVI for tax purposes has been the subject of New York City reporting in the past, some of which contributed to recent changes in the residency requirements for EDA participants promulgated by the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS), according to the New York Sun. EDA participants are now required to spend a minimum average of 183 days per year in the territory to qualify for the program’s tax benefits.
“But whatever one’s view of the Virgin Islands tax breaks from a public policy perspective, Mr. Epstein seems to have demonstrated by his own behavior that the program didn’t require him to be resident in the Virgin Islands enough to prevent him from getting in trouble elsewhere” according to a July 28, 2006, editorial in the New York Sun.