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Sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein had close ties to U.S. Virgin Islands First Family including paying college tuition for their children



Jeffrey Epstein paid tuition for the children of the US Virgin Islands’ governor and first lady, including at New York’s Skidmore College, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in court filings.

Cecile de Jongh, wife of then-USVI Governor John de Jongh Jr., sent Epstein an August 2011 email with the subject line “Please Approve,” attaching a $25,000 tuition bill for Skidmore, a private liberal arts college in Saratoga Springs, New York. The email is among dozens of previously sealed documents the bank filed late Wednesday in Manhattan federal court.

JPMorgan is fighting a lawsuit by the USVI, accusing it of facilitating Epstein’s sex trafficking. The bank is defending itself in part by alleging the USVI government did far more itself to aid the crimes of Epstein, who had a private island retreat, Little Saint James, there.

JPMorgan accused Cecile de Jongh, who worked as an office manager for Epstein, in a May filing of acting as his “primary conduit for spreading money and influence throughout the USVI.” But the emails released on Wednesday provide additional details underscoring the closeness of their relationship. 

The latest filing also indicates that JPMorgan is continuing to vigorously fight the USVI suit even after announcing Monday that it had agreed to settle a similar lawsuit by victims of Epstein’s abuse for $290 million. 

The USVI is asking the judge to stop JPMorgan from asserting an “unclean hands” defense, arguing that doctrine doesn’t apply to government actors. Neither de Jongh nor a lawyer for the USVI responded to requests for comment Thursday. 

A spokeswoman for the USVI attorney general’s office said last month that JPMorgan, “which had a legal responsibility to report the evidence in its possession of Epstein’s human trafficking,” was trying to shift blame to the territory.

According to JPMorgan, the tuition Epstein paid for de Jongh’s children pushed her compensation as office manager to $200,000 in 2009. A year’s tuition at Skidmore currently costs about $65,000, not including room and board, according to the school’s website.

The bank claims that in return she provided him access to the USVI’s political elite, who gave him valuable tax benefits and even allowed him to participate in debate about laws that might affect him.

‘Offenders and Predators’

In a May 2011 email exchange included in the JPMorgan court filing, Epstein and de Jongh discussed the USVI’s plans to update its sex offender registration law to discuss the bill’s possibe impact on him. Epstein was registered in the US as a sex offender following his 2008 conviction for soliciting a minor for prostitution.

Epstein suggested that the USVI might revise the law to more narrowly apply to “predators,” a category from which he apparently excluded himself. 

“Maybe we should distinguish between offenders and predators,” Epstein wrote in the email to de Jongh. He also said that a provision for waivers from the law’s requirements “should be broader” to avoid affecting his privacy and his business. 

It’s not clear how widely the email was shared, though de Jongh’s reply asked if Epstein wanted to wait for other people to respond. She later wrote that the matter “needs to be settled” in a few days because the attorney general needed to submit something by the end of the month.

“Don’t want to email back and forth,” she added.

According to JPMorgan, Epstein wasn’t happy with the law that passed in June 2012, and de Jongh promised she would find ways for him to get around the restrictions. According to the emails released Wednesday night, the two expressed frustration that a USVI politician identified only as “Russell” had betrayed them.

“I know this was a horrible week and I am really sorry about how things panned out,” de Jongh wrote. “Not being able to take someone at their word is incredibly frustrating.” In a likely reference to her husband, she said Russell had “screwed John” on another bill but said they could work with other politicians and officials to give “the discretion for status quo for you.”

‘Did the Ladies Enroll?’

Some of the other emails detail de Jongh’s efforts to help Epstein obtain student visas for young women by arranging their enrollment at the University of the Virgin Islands. 

“Did the ladies enroll?” de Jongh followed up with Epstein in a June 2013 email. “It is not too late for the fall semester? As we discussed, they need to go down and enroll and show the ability to pay.”

Epstein was a client at JPMorgan between 1998 and 2013, when the bank cut ties with the financier. JPMorgan has highlighted that Epstein’s ties with the USVI government continued far longer. One 2017 email shows Epstein communicating directly with the USVI’s environmental commissioner about the aftermath of a hurricane and the territory’s likely need for money.

In an October 2019 email, a few months after Epstein was arrested for sex trafficking and was subsequently found dead in his Manhattan jail cell, a group of USVI officials communicated about an inquiry from the New York Times about tax incentives Epstein was given by the territory.

“I personally think the questions are opening us up to public scrutiny,” USVI official Margarita Benjamin wrote.

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