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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, June 21, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsJPMorgan Digs into Plaskett’s Epstein’s Ties in Deposition

JPMorgan Digs into Plaskett’s Epstein’s Ties in Deposition

V.I. Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett accepted contributions totaling more than $34,000 from Jeffrey Epstein and four of his associates from 2014 through the 2020 election cycle, according to a partial transcript of her hours-long deposition last month in the V.I. government’s lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase Bank.

Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (Submitted photo)

Plaskett also met with Epstein at his New York City mansion sometime in the fall of 2018 to discuss campaign contributions, ultimately arranging a $30,000 donation to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that the DCCC rejected because the wealthy financier did not pass its vetting process, according to the transcript.

The 26-page document, which is missing chunks of Plaskett’s testimony, is among 114 exhibits included in JPMorgan’s opposition to the V.I. government’s motion to strike the bank’s affirmative defenses. Most of the exhibits have been filed under seal, except for the delegate’s deposition and a few that are newspaper articles about Epstein.

The V.I. Attorney General’s Office filed suit against the bank in December in federal court in Manhattan, alleging it aided Epstein’s sex-trafficking scheme in violation of the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The bank has denied wrongdoing and has called the suit a “masterclass in deflection.”

Epstein, a convicted sex offender whose primary residence was his private island estate off St. Thomas, died by apparent suicide in August 2019 while in custody in New York on federal sex trafficking charges.

The wealthy financier, who held numerous JPMorgan accounts, received lucrative tax benefits for his businesses through the territory’s Economic Development Authority, where Plaskett served as counsel from 2007 to 2012. However, she testified that she first met him in person only after leaving that job, according to the transcript.

Plaskett testified that she was introduced to Epstein as a potential donor by his St. Thomas attorney, Erika Kellerhals, at whose firm she worked at the time, sometime in 2013 when she was preparing to run for office, according to the transcript.

Plaskett responded “I do not recall” to many of the questions by Peter G. Neiman, a partner at WilmerHale, which is representing JPMorgan in the suit, including inquiries about how many times she met with Epstein at his St. Thomas office.

“Do you think it was more than five times?” Neiman asked. “No,” Plaskett responded. She also testified that she never met Epstein at his island home, Little St. James.

She did, however, meet Epstein at his Upper East Side townhouse in New York City sometime in the fall of 2018, according to the transcript, just under a year before his arrest on federal sex-trafficking charges in July 2019.

Arriving at the front door, she was greeted by Lesley Groff, Epstein’s assistant who was later accused of aiding his sex-trafficking scheme in a lawsuit filed by an alleged Epstein victim but was never criminally charged. The lawsuit was dismissed in December 2021.

Asked to describe her meeting at Epstein’s New York townhouse — a gilded mansion that sold for $51 million in March 2021 — Plaskett recalled being greeted by a security guard and led inside to a large foyer, where Groff was waiting, according to the transcript.

Groff escorted her through an even larger foyer stairwell area to a room that appeared to be a long dining room, “where [Epstein] was sitting at a very long table having a conversation with another gentleman. Wrapping up the conversation, that person leaving — making introductions, that person leaving, and me sitting down and having a conversation with him,” Plaskett testified.

While Plaskett said she did not recall the name of the gentleman Epstein was meeting with, according to the transcript it was Thorbjorn Jagland, the former prime minister of Norway who served as secretary general of the Council of Europe from 2009 to 2019.

“Were there any women present in the home when you visited?” Plaskett was asked.

“Other than Ms. Groff, no,” she replied.

“Did you ever hear that when Mr. Epstein traveled to the Virgin Islands, he often had young women with him?” she was asked.

“What time frame are you asking me did I know?” she said.

“Ever,” said the questioner.

“Yes,” replied Plaskett.

“When do you recall?” she was asked.

“I don’t recall the exact time of hearing that,” she said.

“Do you think it was before or after September of 2018?”

“I don’t recall,” said Plaskett.

“So it could have been earlier than that?”

“It could have,” she said.

As for her meeting at Epstein’s New York home, Plaskett said it “potentially” lasted about half an hour but not more than an hour. She testified that they discussed Virgin Islands politics, national politics, and a campaign contribution but that she did not remember what her “ask” was, according to the transcript.

Asked whether she was trying to raise money for the DCCC at that time, Plaskett testified, “I think I was always trying to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.”

According to the transcript, Plaskett did not recall the exact amount but had to raise roughly $250,000 for the committee as part of her job as a Democratic congresswoman. She testified that involved soliciting individuals who had donated previously, people interested in the same topics as the committees she sat on, and other Democratic donors throughout the country, including Epstein.

Plaskett said she did not recall whether she discussed a DCCC contribution with Epstein during the September 2018 meeting, but shortly after, she directed her assistant to draft an email to Kellerhals regarding her conversation with Epstein, according to the transcript.

“With the idea that she would then reach out to Mr. Epstein to arrange the contribution?” she was asked.

“Yes,” Plaskett replied.

“And do you recall that the DCCC rejected Mr. Epstein’s contribution?”

“Yes,” she replied.

While Plaskett testified that she did not recall exactly how she heard about the rejection, she remembered that the reason was “that he had not passed their vetting,” according to the transcript.

“What did you understand that to be a reference to?” she was asked.

“I did not know the specifics of what the vetting was,” she replied.

“Did you assume that it related to his status as a sex offender?” she was asked, at which point her attorney objected to the question.

“I was not sure of the totality of the circumstances,” Plaskett said.

More than four hours into the deposition, according to the time stamps on the pages, Neiman produced a list of Plaskett’s donors from at least the 2014 election cycle through the 2020 cycle, highlighting those who were Epstein or his affiliates.

According to the transcript, Epstein’s personal contributions to Plaskett’s campaigns totaled $8,100. Groff donated $2,600; Darren Indyke, Epstein’s personal attorney and co-executor of his estate, who appeared before the EDA on Epstein’s behalf when Plaskett was the authority’s counsel, gave $10,700; and Epstein’s in-house accountant, Richard Kahn, also a co-executor, another $10,700. Bella Klein, Indyke’s assistant, gave $2,600.

“So across those five people, there’s total donations in excess of $30,000, correct?” she was asked.

“I’m adding that up. That sounds correct,” Plaskett replied.

“Did you have any other contributor who donated either directly by themselves, or by themselves, and with a group of people associated with them, more than $30,000?”

At that point, attorney David Ackerman of Motley Rice, the firm representing the V.I. government, objected to the question and the transcript ends.

The Source reached out to Plaskett for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication. However, following Epstein’s arrest in July 2019 on the child sex trafficking charges, Plaskett announced she would make charitable donations to organizations that work with women and children in the amount he donated to her campaigns in 2016 and 2018, which she said was $8,100.

“My litmus test for accepting campaign contributions has been based on whether the donor’s money was made legally or by ill-gotten means and that the contributor will not ask of me or my Congressional office for any special favors. All my contributions have passed that test. In this case however, I am uncomfortable having received money from someone who has been accused of these egregious actions multiple times,” she said at the time.

Other V.I. politicians also accepted campaign contributions from Epstein and likewise donated the equivalent amount to local charities following his arrest, among them Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory, Sen. Alicia Barnes, and Sen. Athneil “Bobby” Thomas. Each had received $1,000.

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. is set to be deposed in the JPMorgan case on Tuesday. He never received campaign contributions from Epstein, his office has said previously.

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