Ghislaine Maxwell hid from FBI, covered her phone with tin foil
When FBI agents showed up at Ghislaine Maxwell’s secluded New Hampshire estate to arrest her, she ran to another room, forcing agents to break through the front door.
The British socialite, who was living on the million-dollar property she bought via an anonymous limited liability company, had a cell phone wrapped in tin foil – apparently to avoid it being tracked. She also had round-the-clock security made up of former U.K. military personnel who fetched things for her using a credit card issued by the LLC.
Those are just some of the measures federal prosecutors say Maxwell, 58, took to hide from law enforcement when she was arrested July 2 on sex-trafficking charges linked to her association with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
In a court filing Monday, the government cited those details in its fight to keep Maxwell locked up before her trial, saying she’s spent the last year “hiding” from law enforcement and has access to “extraordinary financial resources” that would allow her to flee the country is she’s freed.
A federal judge on Tuesday will consider whether to grant Maxwell’s request to be released from a Brooklyn, New York, lockup on $5 million bond to live under house arrest until her trial. Her defense team argued for her release, citing her long ties to the U.S., where she has lived to decades.
But prosecutors reiterated Monday that the daughter of British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell remains a high risk to flee the country to avoid prison.
“She has demonstrated her ability to evade detection, and the victims of the defendant’s crimes seek her detention,” the U.S. said in its filing. “Because there is no set of conditions short of incarceration that can reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance, the government urges the Court to detain her.”
If she flees to France, where she also has citizenship, Maxwell wouldn’t be sent back to the U.S. for trial because the country doesn’t extradite its citizens to the U.S. for prosecution. The government also argued Maxwell has been hiding from authorities, living in a secluded 156-acre estate in Bradford, New Hampshire, since late last year.
Maxwell is accused of luring girls as young as 14 for sexual encounters with Epstein and engaging in some of the abuse. Prosecutors argued she could face as long as 35 years in prison if convicted. Epstein died in a Manhattan lockup last August of an apparent suicide while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges.
While Maxwell’s lawyers said in a separate court filing that she has six people willing to co-sign her bond, prosecutors argued she hasn’t identified these people, whether any are even in the U.S. or have the sufficient finances to pay if she does flee.
Maxwell had also argued against the charges by saying she was covered by Epstein’s earlier non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in Florida. But prosecutors called that argument “absurd” saying their Maxwell case includes evidence from two new alleged victims who weren’t involved in the earlier prosecution.
The government said its case could become “even stronger” because additional witnesses have come forward since Maxwell’s arrest, wanting to provide information against her.
Monday’s court filing also provided more details about Maxwell’s arrest in New Hampshire.
FBI agents were first barred from entering the property by a locked gate they had to pry open and were then confronted by one Maxwell’s private guards, according to the U.S.
When the agents approached the front door, they caught a glimpse of Maxwell through the window, trying to “flee” rather than answer them. The FBI ultimately forced to “breach” Maxwell’s door to enter and only arrested Maxwell after she was found “in an interior room in the house,” according to the government.
After a search of her home, agents found the cell phone on a desk, with the tin-foil wrapping prosecutors called a “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.”
A security guard for Maxwell later told agents her brother had hired former members of the British military to guard her around the clock. Maxwell provided one of the guards with a credit card issued in the name of the same limited liability company that bought the New Hampshire home in cash last year. The guard said Maxwell hadn’t left the property during his time working for her saying she’d directed him to buy things for the estate.
“As these facts make plain, there should be no question that the defendant is skilled at living in hiding,” prosecutors said.