US billionaire Jeffrey Epstein arrested on sex trafficking charges: reports

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 A hedge fund billionaire has been arrested on sex trafficking charges in the New York area, after having long been followed by accusations of molesting young girls, US media reported.

Jeffrey Epstein, who is expected to appear before a federal magistrate on Monday, was arrested Saturday at a New Jersey airport after arriving from Paris in his private jet, CBS Miami reported.

A source familiar with the case told the television station Epstein was charged with one count of sex trafficking and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Epstein had long been the subject of accusations of paying young girls for sexual massages at his Palm Beach, Florida mansion.

A police investigation found that he had engaged in sex with underage girls, some as young as 13, according to reporting by the Miami Herald.

But Epstein avoided federal prosecution in those cases with a 2007 plea deal negotiated by R. Alexander Acosta, now the US labor secretary and at the time the top federal prosecutor in Miami.

Under the deal, he pleaded guilty to a state charge of soliciting prostitution from a minor and was sentenced to 18 months in the county jail. The Miami Herald investigation found that Epstein was granted work release privileges that allowed him to leave jail for 12 hours a day, six days a week, and that he was released after 13 months.

The revelations threw a spotlight on Epstein, a well-connected financier whose friends included US President Donald Trump and former president Bill Clinton. It also drew attention to Acosta’s role in negotiating the plea deal.

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