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Epstein Shrinks from Plea Bargain

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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PULLING OUT Epstein(Photo:

Looks like former money manager-turned-underage rubdown enthusiast Jeffrey Epstein is opting to take his chances with a jury.

The multi-millionaire (and former backer with New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman) is accused of paying girls as young as 14 for erotic massages at his Palm Beach mansion and assaulting them with a variety of brightly colored sex toys. (Epstein has said he didn't know the girls were underage.) Arrested on a lone prostitution charge, Epstein was said to have secured a plea bargain (with the help of former Clinton/Whitewater special counsel and Blackwater attorney Kenneth Starr) in which he'd plead guilty to the state prostitution charge in exchange for 18 months in prison (the charge carries a max of five years) and avoid having to register as a federal sex offender.

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He had already backed out of one deal, sources say. Now, according to the docket of judge Sandra McSorley in West Palm Beach, Florida's 15th Judicial Circuit, Epstein's disposition hearings—one scheduled for Nov. 16 and another for Nov. 27—have been canceled. Instead, a jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 7 at 9 a.m.

Plenty of time to get Court TV.

A message left for Epstein's attorney Gerald Lefcourt was not immediately returned.



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