Ghislaine Maxwell wrapped her cell phone in tin foil in a “seemingly misguided effort” to evade detection from law enforcement prior to her arrest, prosecutors said in a new filing.
The memorandum comes a day ahead of a bail hearing for Ms Maxwell’s in New York on Tuesday, where a judge will decide whether she can be released before her trial on charges of facilitating the abuse of minors by her former boyfriend and associate, Jeffrey Epstein.
“The defendant’s conduct at the time of her arrest further underscores the risk of flight she poses,” prosecutors said in a filing in the US District Court in Manhattan. “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.”
Prosecutors argue that Ms Maxwell poses an extreme flight risk due to her international ties, her access to money and what they describe as efforts to evade law enforcement. The filing cites the effort to hide her phone as one way in which she tried to deceive investigators.
“As the agents conducted a security sweep of the house, 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 memorandum said.
They also alleged that Ms Maxwell ignored FBI agents’ directions to open a locked gate when they arrived at her New Hampshire property on 2 July, and that they saw her “instead, try to flee to another room in the house, quickly shutting a door behind her”.
“Agents were ultimately forced to breach the door in order to enter the house to arrest the defendant, who was found in an interior room in the house,” they added.
Ms Maxwell, a former British socialite, has been charged with multiple crimes in relation to the investigation into Epstein’s alleged abuse of minors. The indictment against her alleges that she “assisted, facilitated and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18.”
Ms Maxwell had seemingly disappeared into thin air last year, after Epstein was arrested and later killed himself in federal custody while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Her whereabouts have been the subject of intense speculation since Epstein’s arrest and apparent suicide. Media reports have alleged that she was living in Paris, London and Israel. But the FBI said they had been monitoring her movements as their investigation proceeded, before finally swooping on her latest location in a luxury mansion in New Hampshire.
“We have been discreetly keeping tabs on Maxwell’s whereabouts as we worked this investigation,” said William Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, at a press conference following her arrest.
“More recently, we learned she had slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims lived with the trauma inflicted on them years ago.”
Prosecutors said that one or more of Epstein’s victims will testify at the bail hearing on Tuesday to ask that Ms Maxwell be denied bail.
Ms Maxwell has denied taking part in any abuse by Epstein. Her lawyers have argued that she is being made a scapegoat in the abuse after Epstein killed himself, and have asked that she be released on $5m bail and electronic monitoring. They added that she is at “significant risk” of contracting the coronavirus in New York’s jail system.
They said in a separate filing that she did not flee from law enforcement, “but rather left the public eye, for the entirely understandable purpose of protecting herself and those close to her from the crush of media and online attention and its very real harms.”