She has to be reminded to clean her ‘very dirty’ cell, federal prosecutors say
Manhattan federal prosecutors have hit back after a lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell complained about her “detrimental” conditions last month, saying in a letter filed Tuesday that the real problem seems to be her failure to clean her “very dirty” cell and flush her toilet. The letter came in response to a complaint sent to a federal judge in February by a lawyer for the British socialite.
Maxwell — who faces trial for grooming and trafficking girls for multimillionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein — claimed she was forced to drink dirty tap water and eat unheated meals and that a guard “physically abused” her during a pat-down search at Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC).
“The overall conditions of detention have had a detrimental impact on Ms. Maxwell’s health and overall well-being; and she is withering to a shell of her former self—losing weight, losing hair, and losing her ability to concentrate,” defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim wrote U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan.
Manhattan federal prosecutors paint a very different picture, however.
In their Tuesday filing, they say Maxwell is a healthy weight, doesn’t have any noticeable hair loss, received the COVID vaccine, and seems to sleep through nighttime checks—but has been warned of cleanliness issues herself.
MDC determined Maxwell’s complaint of an abusive pat-down was “unfounded,” prosecutors wrote, before adding that detention staff have warned the 59-year-old about her alleged refusal to keep her jail cell clean or even flush the toilet.
“Following defense counsel’s complaint in its February 16, 2021 letter of an inappropriately conducted pat-down search, the MDC conducted an investigation and found that, contrary to the defendant’s claim, the search in question was in fact recorded in full by a handheld camera,” states a footnote in the letter filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maurene Comey, Alison Moe and Lara Pomerantz.
“After reviewing the camera footage, the MDC concluded that the search was conducted appropriately and the defendant’s complaint about that incident was unfounded,” their letter states.
“MDC legal counsel further confirmed that all pat-down searches of the defendant are video recorded.”
The government’s letter added that after Maxwell’s complaint of abuse, MDC staff ordered the heiress to “clean her cell because it had become very dirty.”
“Among other things, MDC staff noted that the defendant frequently did not flush her toilet after using it, which caused the cell to smell,” the filing continues.
“In addition, the defendant had not cleaned her cell in some time, causing the cell to become increasingly dirty. MDC staff directed the defendant to clean her cell in response to the smell and the dirtiness, not as retaliation for complaining about a particular search.”
Prosecutors also say Maxwell has ample time for calls with her attorneys and, with access to both a desktop computer and laptop 13 hours a day, seven days a week, “continues to receive more time to review discovery than any other inmate.”
MDC also reviewed Maxwell’s email account after she claimed jail staff deleted her messages prematurely.
“That examination revealed that the defendant had herself deleted some of her emails and had archived others,” the letter notes.
“That examination revealed no evidence to suggest that MDC staff deleted any of the defendant’s emails.” (According to Bureau of Prisons policy, inmate emails are purged every six months, the filing notes.)
Maxwell is allowed out of her cell from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day and while in the day room, prosecutors say, “has exclusive access to the MDC desktop computer, the laptop, a television, a phone on which to place social or attorney calls, and a shower.”
She is allowed “outdoor recreation every day, although she has the option of declining such recreation time if she wishes,” the government adds.
“The defendant also has as much, if not more, time as any other MDC inmate to communicate with her attorneys.”
Prosecutors say MDC legal counsel informed them that Maxwell’s meals are heated in a thermal oven, and that the facility’s water is New York City tap water. When the city conducts maintenance, they say, inmates receive bottled water.
“MDC legal counsel emphasized that MDC staff, including the legal staff, drink the same tap water from the same water system as the defendant while in the institution,” their letter states.
Last week, Maxwell’s legal team turned to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a bid to secure her release from MDC. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has thrice refused to grant her bail because she’s considered a flight risk.
In their motion for pretrial release, Maxwell’s attorney David Oscar Markus compared her to other convicted sex offenders who were granted bail before trial, including Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. Markus referenced The Silence of the Lambs’ fictional serial killer, too.
“Since her arrest, Ms. Maxwell has faced nightmarish conditions,” the motion states.
“Though she is a model prisoner who poses no danger to society and has done literally nothing to prompt ‘special’ treatment, she is kept in isolation—conditions fitting for Hannibal Lecter but not a 59-year old woman who poses no threat to anyone.”
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