This week for the True Crime Wednesday feature, I am recapping the second episode in the Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich series on Netflix. I will recap all the information from the episode first followed by my opinion at the very end. TRIGGER/CONTENT WARNING: This documentary discusses sexual abuse of minors, while I don’t go into graphic detail here, it is still mentioned in this article.
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich Ep2 – Follow the Money
Epstein’s Palm Beach Mansion – October 20,2005
This episode opens with footage of Detective Recarey executing a search warrant on Epstein’s Palm Beach residence. The warrant is served to an employee of Epstein’s. This search was done seven months after Palm Beach police began their investigation. Due to the state of certain items around Epstein’s house, police believed that Epstein knew he was being investigated and had been tipped off. It was disappointing for them to find that a lot of critical items had been removed. The police were still able to validate the victims’ stories based on their descriptions of the house. Police did find memo pads that helped them identify victims as well as some of the female adult recruiters that Epstein had. The memo pads also gave investigators a look into how things operated. Law enforcement was surprised by how long this behavior by Epstein had been going on. It was not an easy investigation for detectives, as there were those that would protect those in Palm Beach due to connections with others.
Palm Beach, Florida – 1999
Virginia Giuffre was 16 years old when she met Jeffrey Epstein while working at Mar-A-Lago. She had been working as a locker room attendant in the spa area of the estate. At the time, Virginia had wanted to become a massage therapist. Ghislaine Maxwell had noticed Virginia reading a massage therapist book when she approached her about Epstein looking for a traveling masseuse. Virginia went over to Epstein’s house after her shift at Mar-A-Lago. She was greeted at the door by Maxwell who led her to the massage room. Epstein was already laying on the table, Maxwell guided Virginia in the massage. There was small talk between them as the massage went on. When Epstein turned over Virginia was instructed to take off her clothes, Maxwell also undressed at that time. Virginia was terrified of what would happen if she had a negative response to what was about to happen.
Maxwell and Epstein both participated in the sexual abuse that took place according to Virginia. Virginia feels that she was the perfect victim for them to exploit. Virginia believes that Epstein and Maxwell had been great in normalizing the abuse she experienced. She felt like it was deranged family because they would go hiking, watch movies, and other normal things while abusing her behind closed doors. It became like Virginia was Epstein’s slave especially once she was trafficked to friends of Epstein’s. These friends were powerful people so she felt like she would not be believed if she told anyone.
Coney Island, New York – 1960
Epstein was born and raised in Coney Island, New York. He is described as bright and a good student in high school. He ended up skipping a couple grades in high school and graduated in 1969. In deposition footage we learned that Epstein attended Cooper Union for two years of college and did not obtain a degree. Before the deposition footage cuts away a lawyer asks Epstein if it is true that he taught at Dalton College in New York after he dropped out of college.
In 1976, Michael Tennenbaum received a call from Ace Greenburg, who happened to be a trustee at Dalton College, asking if he would interview Epstein for a job at Bear Stearns. Tennenbaum hired Epstein to develop and market Bear Stearns quantitative analyses for options. When something would happen, that Epstein could not predict, Tennenbaum describes Epstein’s ability to deal with it in an impressive manner. This made Epstein an effective salesperson. Two months into Epstein working for Tennenbaum, he received a call stating that Epstein had lied about his education on his resume. Tennenbaum believes that his biggest mistake was giving Epstein a second chance after confronting him about it. Epstein had done a well enough job that they ended up making him a limited partner. Tennenbaum learned that a few years later Epstein had been fired for breaking the rules.
Palm Beach, Florida – 2006
Law enforcement found that many of the victims did not want to see Epstein prosecuted when they were first approached by police. However, that changed as the investigation went on. Michael Reiter had spoken with Barry Krischer who was the State’s Attorney at the time, and let him know that they had 40-something victims who were teens who had had sex with a man in his 50s. The response from Krischer was that it would be an easy case and they would put him away for life. Epstein had called Alan Dershowitz asking for his help with a situation. Dershowitz would be one of a legal team of eight to represent Epstein. Epstein did not only organize a defense, but he had his team go on the offense. His legal team began to look into the detectives working the case, they wanted to know if there were any vulnerabilities they could target.
Reiter had been surveilled by people hired by Epstein. The surveillance even included picking up the trash of the law enforcement member they were following. Law enforcement stopped inputting the reports associated with the investigation in the computer, keeping them separate and safe from interference. Krischer attitude had changed significantly over the few months since Reiter had first mentioned the case. Law enforcement was never able to convince Krischer that the fact that Epstein had paid each victim that they were still victims of a serious crime. A slide is shown that states in July of 2006, Epstein is charged with a single felony count of solicitation of prostitution. He was arrest and release on bond within a few hours.
Dershowitz proudly explained how the defense went after each of the victims, bring up everything negative they could. Shannon Cake explains that as the story broke, local journalists began to realize the gravity of the situation. Reiter was frustrated that the State only brought one charge against Epstein. So, he wrote to the parents of each victim letting them know that he would be referring the case to the FBI. A slide is shown that states that the FBI took over the investigation in July of 2006.
New York City – 1996
Maria Farmer returned to New York after the assault by Epstein and Maxwell in Ohio. Maria had found out that both Maxwell and Epstein knew she had reported them to the FBI. Maxwell called Maria and threatened her and had mentioned personal routine things that would make Maria an easy target. After that Maria would move every few months after receiving a call from Maxwell.
North Carolina – November 2006
Maria had fled to North Carolina and was living under an alias when the FBI came knocking. The agents had stated that they were there to follow up on her 1996 report. Annie Farmer was also approached by the FBI to hear her story. Based on their experience telling the FBI, Maria and Annie felt like Epstein was going to pay for what he had done. Shawn Rivera was told that the FBI would keep her safe, they just needed her to tell them everything that happened. Many of the victims’ families upon learning what had happened, obtained lawyers to help navigate the situation and their options. Slide is shown stating that separate from the criminal investigation, several victims filed civil lawsuits seeking monetary compensation from Epstein.
Palm Beach, Florida – 2002
Courtney Wild was 14 years old when she was introduced to Epstein. Courtney had been a straight-A student through middle school. However, the summer before high school things at home fell apart. Courtney thought she was going to make some easy money giving Epstein massages. Epstein made Courtney feel like she was lucky to be in his presence. After a few times of going to Epstein’s, Courtney was asked if she had any friends that she could bring. Epstein would pay Courtney $200 and would pay the friend that same amount. Courtney says in the two to three years that she was abused by Epstein, she brought anywhere between 40 and 60 girls to him.
Palm Beach, Florida – 2006
When police reached out to Courtney, she had conflicting emotions due to the picture of Epstein she had in her head. Once she saw the reports of girls she had brought to his house, a wave of emotions hit her. Courtney wanted something done and hired Brad Edwards to be her attorney. Edwards worked to identify who the main players were in this “molestation” pyramid scheme. Edwards saws that the people responsible for recruiting girls were Maxwell, Sarah Kellen, Nadia Marcinkova and Adriana Mucinska. Maxwell is the one identified by most as Epstein right-hand person in the pyramid scheme.
Maxwell met Epstein in New York. She is an extrovert while Epstein was an introvert. Maxwell’s father had been a big figure in England as a newspaper publisher. When Maxwell had come to New York, her world had fallen apart because of her father dying.
Steven Hoffenberg met Epstein in the ‘80s after he had been fired from Bear Stearns, Hoffenberg was the CEO of Tower Financial Corporation. A CEO of a large company that had employed Epstein in Europe had called Hoffenberg to interview Epstein for North America because of his Wall Street credentials, energy, but had a questionable moral compass. It stated that Epstein had cheated and stolen money on his expense account. These behaviors appealed to Hoffenberg because they were running a Ponzi scheme. A slide appears stating that Hoffenberg’s $460 million Ponzi scheme used fake financial statements to exaggerate the value of his company and lure new investors. Hoffenberg described Epstein as his partner-in-crime, backing him up, leading the advance and participating in the crime daily. When the law caught up to them, Hoffenberg took responsibility for the crime, he never turned Epstein in for his role. Hoffenberg was sentenced to 20 years in federal corrections for his role. He claims that Epstein sold his soul to Lex Wexner for several billion dollar investment.
New Albany, Ohio – 1986
Epstein met Wexner around 1986. Wexner had opened the women’s fashion apparel store, The Limited in 1963. Wexner’s other brands included Abercombie & Fitch, and Victoria’s Secret. These brands would make Wexner a multi-billionaire. At one point, Wexner signs a Power of Attorney giving Epstein complete control of his finances. Epstein was working with Hoffenberg and Wexner at the same time. Epstein would travel between New York and Ohio regularly. Hoffenberg claims that Epstein told him how he planned on manipulating and controlling Wexner fortune so he could make a substantial income. A slide on the screen states that between 1991 and 2006 Epstein oversaw the selling of more than 1.3 billion dollars of stock from Wexner’s company, The Limited. In 2019, Wexner revealed that he but ties with Epstein in 2007, when he discovered that Epstein had stolen more than 46 million dollars from him. Wexner did not explain why he never pressed charges.
Santa Monica, California – 1997
Alicia Arden met Epstein when her friend had told her about a guy that could get her in a Victoria’s Secret catalog. Alicia met Epstein at his Shutters’ Hotel room in Santa Monica. Epstein looked at her portfolio, then requested to see her in her bra and underwear. At that point he began touching Alicia, she felt as if she were going to be attacked or raped, so she ran out of the room crying. Alicia went to the Santa Monica Police Department to file a report. She does not believe that Epstein was ever investigate, since nothing ever happened after she reported it.
Palm Beach, Florida – 2006
Mike Fisten is a private investigator that work with Brad Edwards on his civil case against Epstein. Fisten was helping to locate other victims of Epstein’s to help Edwards’ case. Fisten believe that he tracked down around 46 girls that had been assaulted. Even though some victims did not want to speak with Fisten, he was able to collect names and addressed that he would later provide to the FBI. Epstein’s own investigators began doing surveillance on Edwards. They were trying to find anything they could to use against Edwards, they even began to surveil Edwards’ house where his wife and children resided. Edwards’ wife noticed that she was being by someone. That’s when Edwards knew that they intended to intimidate him into abandoning his clients, he never would give them the satisfaction. Epstein’s investigators were also targeting victims as well. Shawna were terrorized by the investigators, at night they would shine their car lights into her bedroom window. Edwards had Fisten pick of Shawna and get her to a location away from the investigators. When Fisten showed up to Shawna’s house, he took pictures of the car and the investigator. The investigator continued to film Shawn’s house while Fisten took pictures. Fisten took Shawna south and put her up in a hotel.
The investigation was a cooperative one between the FBI and the US attorney’s office. The Palm Beach Police Department was not an official partner in the investigation but was kept informed along the way. The government had enough evidence that a 53-page indictment was prepared to charge Epstein with various crimes. Reiter asked for an appointment with Alex Acosta who was acting US Attorney at the time. After meeting with Acosta, Reiter felt like Epstein would go to jail for the rest of his life.
The case had been turned over to the federal government for two years, when Edwards called the US Attorney’s office to find out its status. Based on what was said to him, Edwards felt that something was going on behind closed doors. Reiter says that the police department was now cut off from any more information from the FBI. Acosta had met with Epstein’s lawyers causing the indictment to disappear, and the FBI stopped their case. The episode closes with three individual slide that stated the following statements: 1. Alexander Acosta had maintained his action in the Epstein case were appropriate; 2. Former Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer declined requests for an interview; 3. Ghislaine Maxwell denies all allegation against her.
These are all the people interviewed for the episode. They are listed in order of credited appearance:
- Michael Reiter, Former Police Chief – Palm Beach Police Department
- Sigrid McCawley, Survivors’ Attorney
- Marc Fisher, Senior Editor – The Washington Post
- Virginia Roberts Giuffre, Survivor
- James Patterson, Author
- Michael Tennenbaum, Former Bear Stearns Executive; Author – Risk: Living on the Edge
- Alan Dershowitz, Epstein’s Former Attorney
- Tim Malloy, Journalist
- Jane Musgrave, Journalist – The Palm Beach Post
- Shannon Cake, Journalist – WPTV
- Maria Farmer, Survivor
- Annie Farmer, Survivor
- Shawna Rivera, Survivor
- Brad Edwards, Survivors’ Attorney
- Courtney Wild, Survivor
- Vicky Ward, Journalist
- Charles Gasparino, Senior Correspondent – Fox Business Network
- Steven Hoffenberg, Epstein’s Former Associate
- Bob Fitrakis, Editor – Columbus Free Press
- Tim Feran, Former Financial Reporter – Columbus Dispatch
- Alicia Arden, Model/Actress
- Mike Fisten, Private Investigator
Do I even need to express my disgust for all things Epstein at this point in time. Dershowitz gives me ewe vibes. I cannot pinpoint exactly why, but there is just something about him. I feel so much for the survivors. I am not going to touch on Maxwell until the end of the series. But can we just ring the garbage bell for the following people: Epstein, Maxwell, the recruiters, and the private investigators that worked for Epstein.
Tomorrow for the Writing Thursday feature, I am presenting an original scene. Next week for the Missing Person Wednesday feature, I am highlighting the Doe Network profile of William Zachary Bishop. Until then keep sleuthing the cases; Nerd out!
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