Jeffrey E. Epstein, a billionaire New York financier long accused of molesting dozens of girls, was arrested on Saturday and charged with sex trafficking by federal prosecutors, an extraordinary turn of events in a long and sordid criminal case.
Two people with knowledge of the charges said on Saturday night that Mr. Epstein had been arrested in the New York area and was in federal custody.
He is expected to appear before a federal magistrate on Monday, more than a decade after he first gained notoriety with lurid accusations that he had paid dozens of girls for sexual massages in Florida.
Saturday evening, federal agents carried out a search of his townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, according to witnesses who spoke to the Miami Herald’s Julie K. Brown, who has reported extensively both on Epstein’s alleged crimes and on a deal he received from the US attorney in Miami in 2008 during an investigation involving more than 30 underage victims.
In the Florida investigation, the authorities found that Mr. Epstein paid cash to dozens of girls, some of them as young as 14 or 15, to give him nude massages that often ended in masturbation, oral sex or, in at least one case, rape.
Some of the girls were runaways or foster children; Mr. Epstein would ask some girls to recruit others to bring to his properties. The encounters took place from 1999 to 2005.
The FBI had prepared a 53-page sex crimes indictment for Epstein in 2007 that could have sent him to prison for life, according to the Herald. Instead, he cut a deal with Alexander Acosta, then the US attorney in Miami, which allowed him to serve just 13 months — not in federal or state prison, but in a private wing of a Palm Beach county jail.
He was granted work release to go to a “comfortable office” for 12 hours a day, six days a week, despite the fact that the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Department prohibited work release for sex offenders.
Maybe this time around will be a little different.