(Bloomberg) -- The second of Jeffrey Epstein’s private pilots to testify at Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial recalled that the British socialite was forced to move into a Manhattan studio apartment after her publishing tycoon father died in 1991.
But David Rodgers said that, about two years later, Maxwell moved into a five-story Upper East Side townhouse that was “maybe 7,000 square feet.”
Maxwell’s defense lawyers objected to the pilot testifying about what prompted Maxwell’s “downsizing” of residences, but prosecutor Maurene Comey said Rodgers’s testimony “goes to motive,” and the judge allowed Rodgers to proceed. Maxwell is charged with luring and grooming young girls for sexual abuse by Epstein, her former boyfriend and employer, and at least one other government witness has suggested she had financial incentive to do so.
“Kate,” an accuser who testified on Monday that Maxwell recruited her for Epstein, recalled the socialite boasted that “Jeffrey got” her New York house for her. A JPMorganChase banker also called to testify on Monday detailed $30.7 million in transfers from Epstein to Maxwell between 1999 and 2007.
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty, and her lawyers have argued she’s being scapegoated for the crimes of Epstein, who committed suicide in 2019 while awaiting his own trial on sex-trafficking charges.
Rodgers, who worked for Epstein from 1991 until his death, said he visited Maxwell’s different New York residences because she was responsible for arranging maintenance on the first-aid equipment aboard the financier’s various planes.
He identified Maxwell in the courtroom, recalling that, when they first met, Maxwell was 29, “very energetic” and had a “great personality.”
She initially lived near Columbus Circle but moved to a studio after the death of Robert Maxwell, Rodgers said.
Once ranked among the world’s richest men, the older Maxwell died in 1991 as his media empire, which once included the New York Daily News, was crumbling and he began to default on massive loans. After his death, hundreds of millions of pounds were found to have been diverted from his companies’ pension funds, and Ghislaine Maxwell’s older brother was forced to declare the largest personal bankruptcy in U.K. history.
It’s long been unclear if she received any significant inheritance, though she claimed to have $20 million in assets at the time of her 2020 arrest.
Read more: Mystery of Ghislaine Maxwell’s Wealth Looms Over Abuse Case
Maxwell sold a Manhattan townhouse for $15 million in 2016. She still has a house in London and paid $1 million cash for the New Hampshire country house where she hid from authorities for a year after Epstein’s arrest.
Another Epstein pilot, Lawrence Visoski, was the first witness called by the prosecution after opening statements on Nov. 29. He described Epstein’s jet-setting lifestyle flying between his five homes, including a Manhattan townhouse, Palm Beach mansion and private Caribbean island, occasionally with celebrities or politicians along for the ride. Visoski recalled that the romantic relationship between Maxwell and Epstein seemed to have cooled by the 2000s.
Rodgers echoed that testimony, tracing the pair’s relationship between 1991 and 2004. “Early on, they were romantically involved and, somewhere in between that time period, they weren’t romantically involved,” he said. But Rodgers said Maxwell nonetheless remained an important figure in Epstein’s world.
“She was No. 2,” he said.
The case is U.S. v. Maxwell, 20-cr-00330, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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