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Epstein lawyers say he had fake passport due to fear of kidnapping

Prosecutors said an expired passport, with Epstein's picture but a different name and address, showed he was a flight risk.

Jeffrey Epstein has been denied bail on sex

Jeffrey Epstein has been denied bail on sex trafficking charges. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images/HO

Lawyers for accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein told a Manhattan federal judge Tuesday that he had a fake passport hidden in a safe in his upper East Side mansion because in the 1980s he was fearful of being kidnapped or hijacked during international travel and didn’t want to be identified as Jewish.

Epstein, a wealthy financier, is currently held in the Manhattan federal jail. Prosecutors revealed the expired passport — with Epstein’s picture but a different name, listing a Saudi Arabian residence — at a bail hearing on Monday, telling U.S. District Judge Richard Berman it showed he was a flight risk.

“Epstein — an affluent member of the Jewish faith — acquired the passport in the 1980s, when hijackings were prevalent, in connection to Middle East travel,” his lawyers  said Tuesday. “The passport was for personal protection in the event of travel to dangerous areas, only to be presented to potential kidnapers, hijackers or terrorists should violent episodes occur.”

In their letter to Berman, they said the passport was Austrian, and expired 32 years ago. “The government offers nothing to suggest — and certainly no evidence — that Epstein ever used it,” they said.

Epstein, 66, was arrested July 6 and charged with hiring “dozens” of underage girls to give him nude massages and sexually touching them at his home in Palm Beach and his $77 million mansion on East 71st Street from 2002 to 2005.

Prosecutors say he is a flight risk because he is worth more than $500 million -- $70,000 cash and 48 loose diamonds from one to 2.38 carats were found in a safe with the old passport — with six homes, including one in Paris, and is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted of being a serial molester.

He previously pleaded guilty to two prostitution felonies in Florida in 2008, did 13 months  in jail and registered as a sex offender in a deal struck with the U.S. Attorney in Florida that his accusers have long criticized as too lenient.

Defense lawyers say he is protected against the new prosecution in New York by that deal. They asked Berman to order home detention for Epstein with an ankle bracelet and camera surveillance, secured by as high a bond as the judge wants. He has also offered to pay for 24-hour armed guards to watch him.

At Monday’s hearing, Berman cited several problems, including a lack of financial details on where Epstein’s wealth is located and in what form. Epstein did not provide the details Tuesday, but said he would have a forensic accountant prepare a report for Berman if the judge is prepared to release him.

Berman has scheduled a hearing Thursday morning to announce his decision.

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