Allison Moe, Alex Rossmiller, and Maurene Comey, assistant U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of New York, filed papers in the district on Aug. 19 (pdf) asking U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman to drop the case against Epstein.
The prosecutors noted that the sex trafficking indictment against Epstein was returned on July 2, charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors and one count of sex trafficking of minors.
But Epstein was found unresponsive on Aug. 10 and soon declared dead.
“Because Jeffrey Epstein, the defendant, died while this case was pending, and therefore before a final judgment was issued, the Indictment must be dismissed under the rule of abatement,” the prosecutors wrote, citing the 1998 court decision in United States v. Wright.
Berman said that he agreed with the recommendation, sending the documents to U.S. District Judge Richard Berman.
“Upon the foregoing recommendation, I hereby direct, with leave of the Court, that an order of nolle prosequi be filed as to defendant Jeffrey Epstein,” Berman wrote.
The assistant attorneys attached a letter to Berman (pdf), saying that their office has tried to notify all identified victims of Epstein’s death and will try to notify them of the case being dropped if it was approved.
“As this Office has previously stated publicly, it remains committed to doing its utmost to stand up for the victims who have already come forward, as well as for the many others who have yet to do so,” the prosecutors wrote.
Berman said on Aug. 10 after Epstein’s death that it was “disturbing” while acknowledging it would present “another hurdle to giving Epstein’s many victims their day in Court.”
“Earlier this morning, the Manhattan Correctional Center confirmed that Jeffrey Epstein, who faced charges brought by this Office of engaging in the sex trafficking of minors, had been found unresponsive in his cell and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter of an apparent suicide,” Berman said in the statement.
“Today’s events are disturbing, and we are deeply aware of their potential to present yet another hurdle to giving Epstein’s many victims their day in Court. To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so, let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment–which included a conspiracy count–remains ongoing,” he added.
Attorney General William Barr reacted to the death two days later, telling people at an event that he was “appalled” and “frankly, angry,” calling the death a “failure to adequately secure this prisoner.”
“We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation. The FBI and the Office of Inspector General are doing just that,” Barr added.
“We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability. But let me assure you this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein. Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice, and they will get it,” he added.