July 12, 2019

AG looking into potential Epstein crimes committed in NM

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Mug shot of Jeffrey Epstein made available by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department, taken following his indictment for soliciting a prostitute in 2006

Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office is looking into whether convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein committed crimes in New Mexico. 

The newly renewed attention on the New York financier came after investigative work by the Miami Herald—and resulted in new federal charges on sex trafficking charges. Thanks to a sweetheart deal from Alex Acosta, who announced Friday morning that he would resign from his position as U.S. Labor Secretary amid criticism of the plea deal, Epstein only served 13 months in county jail, and was granted work release. The deal was kept sealed, including from his victims.

Last week, the federal government charged Epstein with sex trafficking. The indictment says Epstein “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his home in Manhattan, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations.” In addition to the homes listed by prosecutors, Epstein owned, and perhaps still owns, Zorro Ranch in New Mexico.

And that ranch is where Balderas’ office is looking into allegations.

As the Santa Fe New Mexican reported, Balderas’ office says they have been “in contact with survivors.”

“We have contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and will be forwarding additional evidence to federal authorities for proper action,” Balderas spokesman Matt Baca said.

A defamation suit against high-powered attorney Alan Dershowitz also included a reference to Epstein’s ranch.

Maria Farmer said she and her then-15-year-old sister were molested by Epstein and a companion in 1996. In a sworn affidavit, Farmer said Epstein flew the 15-year-old sister to his ranch in New Mexico. Farmer said she reported the sexual assault to the FBI at the time, but the FBI did not take any action against Epstein.

On Thursday, the Santa Fe Reporter reported that Epstein was removed from New Mexico’s sex offender registry in 2010. Epstein’s removal came two days after he was placed on the list in August, after his guilty plea. He is on the sex offender registries in both Florida and New York.

The Santa Fe alt-weekly said his removal came because of the differences between laws in New Mexico and Florida. Since the victims in the case Epstein pled guilty to were not under the age of 16, the state Department of Public Safety told the Santa Fe County Sheriff that Epstein did not need to appear on the registry.

Epstein had ties to New Mexico in addition to his ranch. Epstein donated $50,000 to the reelection campaign of Gov. Bill Richardson in 2006, $15,000 to Gary King in 2006 for his run for Attorney General and $10,000 to Jim Baca in his 2006 campaign for state land commissioner. The candidates, each Democrats, donated the money to charities or returned the money. 

Companies connected to Epstein also donated more than $30,000 to King’s unsuccessful 2014 gubernatorial campaign. King returned the contributions. Another of Epstein’s companies had donated to other candidates, including Richardson, previously. The candidates returned or donated the money.

Epstein bought Zorro Ranch from the family of former Gov. Bruce King in 1993, Gary’s father.

Epstein has ties to a number of powerful and influential people, including former President Bill Clinton, current president Donald Trump,Prince Andrew and Dershowitz.