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Deal reached to end Epstein ranch’s state grazing leases

SANTA FE — A company that was owned by Jeffrey Epstein has reached an agreement to drop its court petition to fight grazing lease cancellations by the State Land Office.

Last month, Cypress Inc. filed an emergency petition for injunctive relief in Santa Fe District Court after the State Land Office announced that it would cancel Cypress’s grazing leases on state trust land next to Epstein’s Zorro Ranch north of Stanley.

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Jeffrey Epstein\’s Zorro Ranch near Stanley in south Santa Fe County. (KRQE via AP, File)

Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard ripped up the leases for 1,200 acres of state trust land at a press conference in September and said the cancellations would take effect Oct. 4.

On Wednesday, the two sides reached a settlement in which Cypress agreed to cancellation of the grazing leases. In exchange, the Land Office won’t do anything with the land, including grazing leases to someone else, at least until Oct. 1, 2021. Also, the land office will treat anyone who buys all or part of the Zorro Ranch fairly in regards to possible grazing leases on the trust land.

“I am pleased that the State Land Office is no longer in business with Cypress Inc., and especially proud that we were able to save State resources by resolving this matter outside of the courtroom,” Garcia Richard said in a statement. “My decision to cancel these leases stands, and my staff and I will move forward with our discussions for future uses of the 1,200 acres of state trust land located near the Zorro Ranch.”

Garcia Richard announced the cancellations after accusations surfaced of girls being forced into sex on the ranch, although Epstein was never charged for crimes that occurred there. Epstein, a wealthy financier, was facing several sex trafficking charges when he killed himself in a New York jail in August.

Garcia Richard said she cancelled the leases because she was not allowed access to the land and that appraisement forms were signed by Epstein associate Ghislain Maxwell instead of a disinterested party. Maxwell has been accused of, but not charged with, abetting Epstein’s abuse of teenaged girls at his various homes.

Cypress disputed the claims and argued in its court petition that a representative from the Land Office was granted access to the land 43 days before the Sept. 3 cancellation notice and that the ranch offered the office access to the land after the notice, but the offer was ignored.