Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY -

young women who claim he paid them for sex when some were as young as 14 years old.

At­tor­ney Jack Scarola, who is rep­re­sent­ing Ed­wards, said his client was com­pelled to di­vulge the con­fi­den­tial set­tle­ments to an­swer ques­tions posed by Epstein’s at­tor­neys. “Bril­liant move on their part,” he said.

Even if Epstein’s at­tor­neys hadn’t opened the door, Scarola said the in­for­ma­tion likely would have come out.

He says the in­for­ma­tion will help him un­der­mine Epstein’s claims that Ed­wards “ginned up” the al­le­ga­tions to help his former law part­ner, im­pris­oned and dis­barred Fort Laud­erdale lawyer Scott Roth­stein, per­pet­u­ate a $1.2 bil­lion Ponzi scheme.

The rev­e­la­tions of the set­tle­ments came as part of an on­go­ing law­suit that started as a dis­pute be­tween Epstein and Roth­stein, both bil­lion­aires.

In 2008 Epstein pleaded guilty to so­lic­i­ta­tion of pros­ti­tu­tion and procur­ing a mi­nor for pros­ti­tu­tion, and a year later he sued Roth­stein and Ed­wards, claim­ing they trumped up the al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mo­lesta­tion to per­pet­u­ate the Ponzi scheme.

Roth­stein was sen­tenced to 50 years in prison in 2010 after ad­mit­ting he had built his wildly suc­cess­ful law firm by forg­ing the names of fed­eral judges and oth­ers to per­suade in­vestors he had ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ments in lawsuits against high-pro­file peo­ple. In­vestors were told they could get a cut of the cash.

One of the high-pro­file peo­ple Roth­stein used to lure in­vestors was Epstein, ac­cord­ing to a law­suit West Palm Beach at­tor­ney Robert Crit­ton filed on Epstein’s be­half. Ac­cord­ing to the law­suit, Roth­stein told in­vestors that Epstein, a money man­ager, had agreed to set­tle the lawsuits with the teens for $200 mil­lion — a claim Crit­ton called “a “com­plete fab­ri­ca­tion.”

After Epstein dropped the law­suit in 2012, Ed­wards turned the ta­bles on him. Ed­wards ac­cused Epstein of fil­ing the law­suit ma­li­ciously to pun­ish him for rep­re­sent­ing the young women.

Al­though Ed­wards was a part­ner in Roth­stein’s now-de­funct firm, Scarola claims Epstein had no ev­i­dence Ed­wards was in­volved in the Ponzi scheme. Fed­eral prose­cu­tors suc­cess­fully charged other at­tor­neys and mem­bers of the firm, but Ed­wards never was im­pli­cated, Scarola said in the ma­li­cious-prose­cu­tion suit.

The rev­e­la­tions about the money Epstein paid to three of the young women came last week in doc­u­ments filed for a hear­ing Tues­day in prepa­ra­tion for a De­cem­ber trial on the law­suit.

At­tor­ney Tonja Had­dad Cole­man, who rep­re­sents Epstein, on Tues­day sought a de­lay of the trial, in part, be­cause she claimed she has been un­able to talk to her client since his es­tate on his pri­vate is­land in the U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands was dev­as­tated last month by Hur­ri­cane Irma. “I’ve had no abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate with Mr. Epstein,” she said.

Palm Beach County Cir­cuit Judge Donald Hafele rejected her re­quest, say­ing Cole­man of­fered no proof.

Still, Hafele gave Cole­man ex­tra time to re­spond to var­i­ous mo­tions that he will have to de­cide be­fore the case goes to trial.

De­spite Scarola’s in­sis­tence that Ed­wards had noth­ing to do with Roth­stein’s Ponzi scheme, Cole­man said the ev­i­dence in­di­cates oth­er­wise, ask­ing why else he would try to de­pose Epstein’s well known friends, such as Pres­i­dent Donald Trump, former Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton and il­lu­sion­ist David Cop­per­field.

Ed­wards’ ma­li­cious prose­cu­tion case has been dif­fi­cult for both sides be­cause both Epstein and Ed­wards have re­fused to an­swer ques­tions. As he did in the civil lawsuits, Epstein has in­voked the Fifth Amend­ment. Ed­wards has claimed that much of the in­for­ma­tion Epstein is seek­ing is pro­tected by at­tor­ney-client priv­i­lege.

The ma­li­cious-prose­cu­tion law­suit is one of two hotly con­tested lawsuits that con­tinue to pit Ed­wards against Epstein. Ed­wards also is su­ing the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, claim­ing it vi­o­lated the fed­eral Crime Vic­tims Rights Act when it ne­go­ti­ated a non­pros­e­cu­tion agree­ment with Epstein.

Only after fed­eral prose­cu­tors agreed to drop their investigation of Epstein did he agree to plead guilty to two pros­ti­tu­tion charges in Palm Beach County Cir­cuit Court. He served 13 months of an 18-month sen­tence.

In fed­eral court records, prose­cu­tors claim one of the key rea­sons they agreed to drop their case was Epstein’s agree­ment to set­tle lawsuits filed against him by dozens of his un­der­age vic­tims.


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