Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite arrested earlier this month for allegedly conspiring with Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse underage girls, tried to evade FBI agents before she was taken into custody and wrapped her cellphone in tin foil to avoid detection, federal prosecutors said Monday.
The details were cited in court documents during arguments against Maxwell’s request for a $5 million bond while she awaits her trial. The bond would be secured by six co-signers and a property in the United Kingdom worth $3.75 million.
Prosecutors argued against Maxwell’s release, saying she poses a flight risk and is “skilled at living in hiding.” They cited her wealth, lack of meaningful ties to the New York area and her French citizenship. France does not extradite its citizens to the United States per French law.
The court papers highlighted some of the events during Maxwell’s July 2 arrest at her $1 million New Hampshire home. When FBI agents arrived, they breached the front gate and ordered Maxwell to open the front door to the main house, prosecutors said.
“Through a window, the agents saw the defendant ignore the direction to open the door and, instead, try to flee to another room in the house, quickly shutting a door behind her,” the documents read.
Agents were forced to breach the front door to the home and found Maxwell inside a room, prosecutors said. As they swept the property, they found a cellphone wrapped in tin foil on a desk, authorities said.
“They also noticed a cell phone wrapped in tin foil on top of a desk, a seemingly misguided effort to evade detection, not by the press or public, which of course would have no ability to trace her phone or intercept her communications, but by law enforcement,” the court papers read.
Maxwell, 58, faces six charges for conspiring with Epstein in a multi-state sex trafficking ring involving three unnamed minors between 1991 and 1997. A hearing is scheduled Tuesday where a judge will decide whether to release her from federal custody.
Several of Epstein’s victims have named Maxwell as his chief enabler when grooming young girls for sexual abuse. Prosecutors said they expect “one or more victims” to testify at Tuesday’s hearing.
“The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell arise from her essential role in sexual exploitation that caused deep and lasting harm to vulnerable victims,” prosecutors wrote. “For years before her arrest in this case, the defendant likely believed she had gotten away with her crimes. That illusion has now been shattered, and she has a host of new reasons to use her considerable resources to flee.”
Maxwell’s lawyers have also cited the coronavirus in requests for her release into home confinement. They filed a memo last week opposing the government’s motion for detention, claiming the health risks associated with COVID-19 and the $5 million are enough to ensure she will appear at trial.
Prosecutors said the Maxwell has offered no reason why she should be treated differently than other federal defendants being held in pre-trial detention.