September 4, 2019

State Land Office cancels grazing lease to company owned by Epstein

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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

The State Land Office announced the cancellation of grazing leases to a company owned by  Jeffrey Epstein, the now-deceased disgraced financier who committed suicide before facing trial for sexual misconduct charges.

The leases surrounded Zorro Ranch, his 10,000 acre northern New Mexico compound that he owned since 1993. State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard said “this land was no doubt used to protect the privacy of Epstein and his co-conspirators, and today we took steps to take back this public land.”

Garcia Richard cited three reasons to cancel the leases of 1,234 acres of state trust land to a company called Cypress Inc.

“First, the Ranch’s obstruction of my access to inspect state trust land. Second, a written misrepresentation by Cypress that does not comply with State Land Office leasing requirements,” she said. “And finally, the Attorney General has concluded that Cypress may have obtained the leases through illegitimate means for purposes other than ranching or agriculture.”

The notice means the cancellation can become effective in 30 days, or on Oct. 4.

In July, before Epstein’s death, Attorney General Hector Balderas said his office was investigating whether Epstein committed any crimes in New Mexico.

Virginia Giuffre alleged that Epstein associated Ghislaine Maxwell ordered her to have sex with former Gov. Bill Richardson. Richardson denied that he had ever even met Giuffre and a spokesman told the Santa Fe New Mexican last month that he has not been charged with any crime.

Maria Farmer said in a lawsuit against attorney Alan Dershowitz that Epstein molested her and her then-15-year-old sister at the ranch.

In 2010, Epstein was removed from New Mexico’s sex offender registry because the crimes he pled guilty to did not require his registration in New Mexico, though he registered as a sex offender in Florida and New York, the other two states where he owned residences.

Epstein’s ties to New Mexico surround his ranch and includes political donations.

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

Meanwhile, a federal court outlined on Tuesday a tentative schedule to unseal many more documents that could reveal even more names.