Jeffrey Epstein used charity to benefit himself: Report

By Business LeadersFOXBusiness

Criminal case against Epstein dropped following his death

Criminal defense attorney David Bruno on the Jeffrey Epstein case.

Jeffrey Epstein reportedly used one of his charity accounts to benefit himself – allegedly spending the funds to give himself tax breaks or get out of violations amassed in the Caribbean islands, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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Epstein founded Gratitude America Ltd. in 2012 to “support the expression of gratitude for the ideals of America," incorporation records obtained by the outlet show.

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In 2015, Gratitude America received $10 million from Leon Black through a limited-liability company and claimed to have contributed more than $1.8 million to charities in 2016 and 2017, according to the report.

In one case, Epstein – who was reportedly worth more than $550 million before his death – reportedly wrote two checks through as many of his foundations, one of which being Gratitude America, in the amount of $160,000 each.

The payments were made to a Virgin Islands nonprofit, the St. Thomas Historical Trust, allegedly with the hopes of resolving 2016 construction violations connected to one of his private islands, Great St. James, the report states.

The checks could have led to tax benefits for Epstein, if the funds were considered charitable contributions.

A representative for St. Thomas Historical Trust denied receiving any checks and claimed not to have been aware of their existence until seeing news reports.

"The representatives of Mr. Epstein would have liked the settlements to include the payments as charitable donations," Jamal Nielson, spokesperson for the Virgin Islands planning department, told Journal. "However, the department rejected the offer. The settlement had to be paid to the department."

Despite claiming to Gratitude America donated millions to charities after pleading guilty to Florida prostitution charges in 2008, sources and documents obtained by the news outlet indicated the funds were nowhere to be found.

Even years later, non-profits that were reported to have been on the receiving end of Gratitude America’s donations claimed to have no record of any money.

Gratitude America reportedly contributed $15,000 to one of Elton John’s unspecified charities in 2017, and donated a reported $75,000 to the Cancer Research Wellness Institute that same year.

But both nonprofits claimed never to have received any donations from any Epstein-associated charities.

Gratitude America operated through Deutsche Bank AG, according to the report. A bank spokesperson told the Journal they are looking into their relationship with Epstein and are cooperating with authorities.

A representative for Black did not comment for the story and Epstein’s lawyer declined to do so.

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The financier was indicted in July on federal sex trafficking-related charges.

He was found dead in the early hours of Aug. 10 inside his Metropolitan Correctional Center jail cell in lower Manhattan. A New York City medical examiner determined he committed suicide by hanging.

Following Epstein's death, a Southern District of New York judge dismissed the criminal case against him. Several victims have since filed lawsuits against the financier's estate.