Days after it was revealed that a “semi-conscious” Jeffrey Epstein was found “injured and in a fetal position inside his cell […] with marks on his neck,” it’s being reported that federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have taken steps to corroborate the accounts of the so-called “Lolita Express.”
The Wall Street Journal reported bright and early on Friday that Epstein’s longtime pilots have been hit with subpoenas. Two of the reasons why were immediately made clear: 1) to corroborate the allegations that Epstein sex-trafficked young girls; 2) to ask if these pilots witnessed attempts to interfere with law enforcement.
Why might prosecutors want to speak to Epstein’s pilots?
-Corroborate accounts from women who say they traveled on his plane when they were underage
— Nicole Hong (@nicole_hong) July 26, 2019
Regarding point no. 1:
Testimony from the pilots could be used by federal investigators in their efforts to corroborate accounts from Mr. Epstein’s accusers. They could also provide detail on Mr. Epstein’s travels and his associates. Some of the pilots were responsible for keeping flight logs of passengers who flew on Mr. Epstein’s private jet, according to court filings.
Details of both Epstein’s travels and his associates could, for example, help build evidence against co-conspirators and give investigators leverage over these pilots. It could also help develop a fact pattern for prosecutors who also want to know if Epstein’s pilots saw efforts to evade, interfere with or obstruct law enforcement. That brings us to point no. 2:
Federal prosecutors in Miami and Mr. Epstein’s lawyers in 2007 negotiated over the possibility of Mr. Epstein pleading guilty to obstruction of justice, including for an incident involving one of his pilots, according to emails that became public in civil lawsuits.
In a Sept. 19, 2007, email, a lawyer for Mr. Epstein offered a statement to the government that said Mr. Epstein changed his flight plan to land in the U.S. Virgin Islands instead of New Jersey after he learned that one of his associates was contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Epstein was never charged with obstruction of justice.
According to the report, the subpoenas were served after Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport on July 6. You may remember that there was a simultaneous raid on Epstein’s Upper East Side townhouse — a raid authorities said turned up a “trove” of lewd images, many of them of young girls. WSJ said that a lawyer for one of the pilots confirmed that the subpoena had been issued, but wouldn’t say anything more about it. It’s not clear which pilot this was, but we already know a few of their names: Larry Visoski, Larry Morrison, Bill Hammond and David Rodgers. Hammond is the only one among them who has not before sat for a deposition in a civil case against Epstein. None of them have commented.
Visoski recently popped up in the news.
It is not clear at this time if these pilots intend to cooperate with the probe. There has been a note of caution, however, that it it’s possible records have been altered or destroyed to hide evidence of crimes. As WSJ noted, attorneys representing an Epstein accuser in 2015 said that flight logs Rodgers handed over were not complete.
“It would not be surprising to find that some of these flight logs […] were likely designed to hide evidence of criminal activity—or perhaps later cleansed of such evidence,” the lawyers surmised.
[Image via Stephanie Keith/Getty Images]
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