Fired AG Leading Epstein Inquiry Reveals V.I. Governor Pressured Her on Pedophile's Behalf
Newly filed court documents show that the Virgin Islands Attorney General investigating Epstein faced political pressure to give the pedophile a special waiver.
Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George vigorously prosecuted Jeffrey Epstein-related cases until she was unexpectedly fired by V.I. Governor Albert Bryan Jr. last December.
The sudden dismissal sent shockwaves throughout the islands and made international headlines, with many speculating that Bryan’s decision was shaped by her legal pursuit of Epstein’s allies. Just a month before her surprise ouster, George had won a $105 million settlement against Epstein’s estate and filed an additional case against Epstein’s alleged allies on Wall Street.
But it wasn’t the first time Bryan may have leaned on George on behalf of the convicted pedophile.
In July, George testified under oath that Bryan had personally lobbied her in 2019 to issue a special waiver to the territory’s sex offender law so that Epstein could travel freely, without special notifications or restrictions.
The demand shocked her, as Epstein was well-known at the time as a convicted sex offender who had reportedly abused dozens of young women and girls, with many victims exploited in the Virgin Islands.
“Just the fact that he as a sex offender got the governor to come to me for that request,” said George, that was “unusual.”
The former attorney general added that Epstein appeared to be “flexing his political influence over or with the governor in an effort to get a favorable result in what I considered to be definitely a law enforcement issue.”
George said that Bryan repeatedly pressured her to issue the sex offender travel waiver to Epstein. Asked if she found the outreach to be “improper,” she responded, “I do.”
George also noted that she later heard from Epstein’s attorney and tax specialist, Erika Kellerhals, who also lobbied for the special waiver. As I reported last month, Kellerhals previously employed Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., a firebrand House Democrat who misled reporters about her extensive ties to the convicted pedophile.
Unlike her predecessors, George denied the waiver.
The former prosecutor’s remarks were made during depositions recorded in July, in a civil case she originally filed against J.P. Morgan Chase last year. The Virgin Islands has claimed that the bank knowingly facilitated Epstein’s criminal enterprise. In response, the bank has charged that the Virgin Islands government was similarly complicit in Epstein’s extensive criminal history.
The disclosure of the deposition, first reported here, was made on Monday in federal court, as both parties have continued to press their case.
In a second deposition filed with the court, also taken in July, George said that when she was appointed to office, she had read about the nickname for Epstein’s private island, “Pedophile Island,” where “horrendous things,” like “sex trafficking,” were happening. She said it was “mind-boggling” that it appeared that no local authorities were probing the ongoing problem.
The latest filings add new details to the claims that Epstein used his extensive political sway in the Virgin Islands to rewrite the territory’s sex offender law. In 2011, the Virgin Islands moved to update its sex offender registry law to comply with federal standards. The proposed reforms alarmed Epstein, who had been convicted of child prostitution charges in 2008, making him a registered sex offender who would be impacted by the proposed bill.
Epstein and his close circle of lobbyists and aides closely followed the legislation and worked to weaken it.
“This is the suggested language; will it work for you?” asked Cecile de Jongh, then the first lady of the Virgin Islands who simultaneously worked as an advisor to Epstein. She kept close tabs on the legislation and helped coordinate high-level meetings to influence its outcome.
Epstein, the emails show, pushed for changes to the bill, and was personally involved with the negotiations with a key lawmaker advancing the legislation, Senator Ronald Russell.
Maria Hodge, an attorney working for Epstein, even drafted Epstein’s chosen amendment language and sent it to a legislative attorney. Hodge, writing in a June 2012 email, noted that she attached “my notes on the amendments to the bill I understand Senator Russell has agreed to support.”
The proposed Epstein amendments to the legislation, Hodge added, were sent via Microsoft Word format, to “make it easier to copy and paste if you wish.”
The legislation was passed with many of the Epstein attorney's proposed amendments taken word-for-word and implemented into law. The changes gave the Virgin Islands Attorney General the power to provide a waiver to the sex offender registry, exempting Tier 1 sex offenders such as Epstein from the 21-day travel notifications and information about with whom he was traveling.