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State AG’s Office investigating Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein in 2013

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Attorney General’s office has been in contact with victims of Jeffrey Epstein, the hedge fund manager with New Mexico ties who was arrested last weekend in New York on new charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy, a spokesperson said Thursday.

Though he’s never been arrested here, Epstein has previously been accused in civil litigation and affidavits of sexually abusing underage girls at his Zorro Ranch in southern Santa Fe County.

“The Office of the Attorney General has been in contact with survivors and is investigating this horrific matter,” Matt Baca, spokesman for Attorney General Hector Balderas, said in a statement Thursday.

“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.”

Baca did not specify whether the alleged victims with whom the AG’s Office has made contact are from New Mexico or had been brought here.

Attorney General Hector Balderas

Attorney General Hector Balderas

The Manhattan U.S. Attorney is handling the new Epstein case, which accuses him of sex crimes with girls as young as 14 in New York and Florida.

His arrest on Saturday comes more than a decade after Epstein received a highly criticized 2008 non-prosecution agreement in Florida that was made without the knowledge of the alleged victims. He pleaded guilty to state charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution and served 13 months in jail during which he was allowed to leave six days a week to go to work.

The plea deal, which a Florida judge ruled in February was in violation of the rights of Epstein’s accusers, has been heavily condemned prior to and in the wake of the recent charges. Elected officials and others are calling for the former Miami U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, who oversaw Epstein’s deal, to resign from his current position as the federal Labor Department secretary.

Epstein and his ranch near Stanley have been brought up in litigation on behalf of women who have accused Epstein of sexual misconduct. In a 2015 court filing, lawyers for a woman identified as Jane Doe #3 was said to have been forced to have sex with Epstein and famous attorney Alan Dershowitz many times, including in New Mexico. Dershowitz denied the allegations against him, which were later withdrawn by the woman’s attorneys.

The Daily Beast has reported on a 2019 affidavit in which one of Epstein’s accusers said he and an associate molested her 15-year-old sister at the Stanley ranch.

Epstein’s ranch was purchased from the family of late former Gov. Bruce King. An address book of Epstein’s that has become part of civil court records in Florida has phone or email listings for King, his niece and former state Rep. Rhonda King and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

The Washington Post, in a March article published in the Journal, reported that Epstein was not required to register as a sex offender in New Mexico after his 2008 plea.

In 2010, days after Epstein completed his probation under house arrest in Palm Beach, Florida, he notified Florida officials that he was heading to his New Mexico ranch, records show. Authorities in Florida, in turn, alerted New Mexico officials, who sent Epstein a letter telling him that “you are a sex offender and that you meet the requirement to register in New Mexico.”

Two days after Epstein registered, state officials reversed course because in his case state law at that time required registration only if the victim was under the age of 16. His victim in the 2008 Florida case for which he was sentenced was 16.

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