Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein has found himself in legal trouble once again.
Known for getting a veritable slap on the wrist back in the early 2000s for similar charges, the federal government is apparently ready to drop the hammer on this notorious sex predator.
The Southern District of New York is expected to indict Epstein on one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors.
The offenses allegedly occurred over a period of several years, with Epstein essentially running a criminal enterprise whereby underage girls were made available for sexual purposes to what is believed to be a very well-known and high-profile clientele.
Epstein was arrested over the weekend at Teterboro Airport as he was stepping off of his private plane. He is expected to be arraigned today on the two-count indictment.
In the era of #MeToo where behavior, once overlooked, is now under intense public scrutiny, it is likely that Epstein will not be able to skate by this time with a sweetheart deal like the one he received back in 2008.
I will assume that the evidence is more than sufficient to convict. The Southern District of New York is not going to target a high-profile individual unless they are able to prove each and every element of the charges. While Epstein was arrested just days ago, this investigation has likely been going on for years. The federal government more than likely has cooperating victims (adult women who were sexually abused and trafficked by Epstein when they were underage), independent witnesses, as well as (perhaps) cooperating co-defendants who are willing to testify against Epstein in the hopes of getting a shorter sentence (or immunity from prosecution).
Epstein is looking at facing the rest of his life in federal prison. So what does he do now?
Well, he has the money to hire top-tier legal talent. But even the greatest attorneys on earth cannot acquit when the evidence is so overwhelmingly in favor of guilt. It is then, when the attorneys and the defendant realize that the cards are stacked against them, that they may wish to offer up something in furtherance of a shorter sentence.
This is what I believe will happen:
Epstein will not go down with the ship. He will name names. He will not allow himself to die in prison. You can be the toughest, boldest billionaire on the block but everybody quickly becomes human when they are looking down the barrel of life in prison.
There is no loyalty when you are up against the might of the federal government. The feds know - as do most of us - that Epstein's sex trafficking network served a high-profile clientele. It is my opinion that in the days, weeks, and months to follow, Epstein, with the assistance of his attorneys, will provide federal prosecutors and FBI personnel with the names of some of the most prominent individuals in business, politics, and entertainment. Men, and perhaps women, who received sexual services from underage girls through the efforts of Jeffrey Epstein.
If the information Epstein provides proves to be profitable to the Department of Justice, it is possible he may serve a relatively shortened sentence - perhaps 10 years or less - even though he may be viewed as the ringleader in this organization.
Despite his lead role in the criminal enterprise, it may be more beneficial for the feds to catch a bigger fish than Epstein than to give a life sentence to somebody relatively unknown outside of business and political circles.
I predict Epstein will cooperate, and a lot of heavy hitters will be indicted in the months to follow.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving South Florida.