NEW YORK — Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of grooming teenage girls for sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, sought to evade FBI detection by using former British military personnel as personal security and wrapping her cellphone in tin foil in an apparent anti-tracing attempt, federal prosecutors alleged Monday.
When the FBI moved on Maxwell at her estate in New Hampshire about two weeks ago, agents had to break down the door and found Maxwell hiding in a room in the interior of the home, according to a new court filing from the government opposing her release on bail.
The details of her arrest were disclosed as Maxwell, 58, is expected Tuesday to face a Manhattan judge for the first time for a ruling on the $5 million bail bond package — with home confinement and GPS monitoring — that her lawyers proposed last week.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has maintained that Maxwell, who has citizenship in three countries including the United States, is a flight risk. She was tracked down at the secluded estate in Bradford, N.H., and arrested July 2.
She was born in France, which does not extradite its own citizens, raising fears among prosecutors that she could leave the country if released and never return to face charges. Authorities have accused her of recruiting underage girls for Epstein to abuse and occasionally participating in criminal sex acts alongside him, saying she “normalized” the idea of having sex with Epstein, her longtime companion, causing lasting psychological and emotional damage to the victims.
Maxwell has denied the allegations, and her attorneys recently said she was estranged from Epstein for a decade before his suicide in August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. She faces up to 35 years in prison.
Maxwell, the wealthy daughter of a deceased British media mogul, was so intent on not being located that she never left her house, sending the security staff out “to make purchases for the property” using a credit card they were provided, a guard there allegedly told the FBI, according to Monday’s court filing. The guards were hired by Maxwell’s brother and worked in “rotations,” prosecutors wrote.
“As these facts make plain, there should be no question that the defendant is skilled at living in hiding,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe wrote.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office noted in its filing that since Maxwell’s indictment, investigators “have been in touch with additional individuals who have expressed a willingness to provide information regarding the defendant.” The evidence provided by those individuals, who were not identified in the filing, “has the potential to make the Government’s case even stronger,” it says.
Maxwell’s bail proposal involves posting “a multimillion dollar property” in the United Kingdom as collateral — which prosecutors have deemed essentially useless because the U.S. government could not seize it — and she has refused to reveal the true extent of her assets to investigators, the filing says.
Maxwell’s attorneys argued last week that she was hiding from the media, not the FBI, before her arrest and that she should not be subjected to the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus at the Brooklyn federal jail where she has been held since her transfer from New Hampshire.