Jeffrey Epstein, Facing Charges of Sex Trafficking, Has Committed Suicide in Prison

U.S. financier reportedly ended his life in a lower Manhattan jail cell on Friday night; he pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him sex trafficking dozens of underage girls

U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' sex offender registry March 28, 2017.
\ Handout ./ REUTERS

Jeffrey Epstein, U.S. financier facing charges of sex trafficking, has committed suicide, U.S. media reported Saturday.

Last month, the media reported that Epstein was found by guards sprawled on the floor of cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in an apparent suicide attempt. The reports, which quoted uncited sources, came days after Epstein was denied bail as he awaited trial for sex trafficking charges.

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Epstein, who was raised in a Jewish home in Brooklyn, New York, made his fortune trading options on Wall Street and managed a finance management company whose clients included some of the wealthiest people in the United States. Epstein has extensive contacts with senior business people and politicians. His close contacts included presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.

He was also known for his flashy lifestyle. Epstein lived in a $77 million dollar mansion in Manhattan and owns another mansion in Florida and one in the Virgin Islands, as well as properties in Paris and New Mexico.

Epstein partnered with former Israeli Prime Minister and current Knesset candidate Ehud Barak to invest in Barak's startup, Carbyne. Barak is the chairman of Carbyne and according to reports by business media outlets, his personal investment in the company totals millions of dollars in it. Haaretz has learned that Epstein financed a considerable part of the investment, thus becoming a partner in the project.

An article in the U.K. Daily Mail tabloid insinuated that Barak may have met with young women at Epstein's New York mansion, a charge that Barak called "a despicable act" and a "false and baseless blood libel."  

In early July, Epstein was arrested at a New Jersey airport after arriving from a visit to Paris and charged with sex trafficking.

In the original investigation, which ended in a plea deal and state rather than federal charges, Florida authorities found that Epstein paid dozens of girls as young as 14 or 15, some of them runaways or foster children, for sexual services between 1999 and 2005.

At a raid at his New York mansion following Epstein's arrest, police found hundreds of photographs of underage girls.

Under the plea bargain in 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting and procuring a person under age 18 for prostitution. He served 13 months in a country lockup, under an arrangement that allowed him to leave his sentence in a private division, from which he was allowed to leave for work six days a week.

The lenient arrangements, which raised public criticism, were attributed to his business and political connections. That deal is now being challenged in a federal court in Florida.

Gidi Weitz contributed to this report