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Ghislaine Maxwell’s Lawyers Seek Leniency Alleging She's ‘Target Of Credible Death Threat’

In a legal brief intended to secure Ghislaine Maxwell a lighter sentence, her attorneys claim that a female inmate has said someone paid her to strangle Maxwell in her sleep. 

By Jax Miller
Ghislaine Maxwell

Attorneys for former socialite-turned-convicted-sex offender Ghislaine Maxwell are asking a federal judge to give her fewer years in prison ahead of her sentencing.

The 60-year-old British confidante of Jeffrey Epstein is hoping that a federal judge will spare her a hefty prison term, according to her attorneys, who filed a memorandum Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Citing the U.S. sentencing guidelines, legal representatives ask that Maxwell serve 51 to 63 months (roughly four to five years) in federal prison instead of the term calculated by the probation officials.

Should the U.S. Probation Office have their way, Ghislaine would spend 24 to 30 years behind bars, according to court documents.

In a separate sentencing memorandum filed Wednesday in federal court — in which attorneys ask for a less specific sentence reduction — lawyers point to “the extraordinarily harsh conditions Ms. Maxwell has faced” during her confinement.

In that document, they note that probation authorities requested a 240-month sentence following a final pre-sentence investigation report (PSR).

“In this case, the goals of sentencing will be achieved by a significant downward variance from the unduly harsh guidelines range of 292-365 months, and Probation’s recommended 240-month sentence for offense conduct that occurred 18-28 years ago,” Maxwell’s attorneys stated. “And where a 60-year-old female defendant with no prior- or post-offense history of misconduct requires no rehabilitation by incarceration and poses no risk of recidivism.”

The memorandum makes several citations to support their request for a lighter sentence, including a cellmate who was allegedly hired to kill the defendant. Court documents state that Maxwell — now part of the prison’s general population — was “the target of a credible death threat.” A female inmate, who was not named, allegedly told at least three other inmates that someone offered her money to kill the one-time British socialite. The cellmate allegedly “planned to strangle her in her sleep,” attorneys say.

That woman had since been moved to solitary confinement, where Maxwell had spent 22 months “under extraordinarily abnormal and restrictive conditions” before being transferred to the general population. Attorneys stated the female inmate’s threat “reflects the brutal reality that there are numerous inmates who would not hesitate to kill Ms. Maxwell.”

“Ms. Maxwell has effectively traded the stress of flashlight checks every 15 minutes in the middle of the night while in isolation for the equivalent stress of having to sleep with one eye open — for as long as she is housed with other inmates,” according to attorneys.

The court documents also referenced Maxwell’s childhood, claiming she became anorexic when still a toddler and was subject to her father’s “relentless” verbal abuse, resulting in distress for the entire family. Maxwell’s father, Robert Maxwell, was a billionaire publishing magnate who, according to the recent sentencing memorandum, was also physically abusive — including an alleged time when he punished Maxwell by beating her hand with a hammer.

The memorandum also included letters from family and friends offering first-person narratives of Maxwell’s life in an attempt to dispel the defendant’s reputation as “a villain, rich heiress and vapid socialite.”

Maxwell’s older siblings, Anne Halve and Philip Maxwell, wrote that her “relationship with [Jeffrey] Epstein began at a moment of extreme vulnerability” following her father’s death. They stated that Maxwell had been emotionally dependent on their abusive father, leaving her “very vulnerable to abusive and powerful men who would be able to take advantage of her innate, good nature.”

This, according to Maxwell’s siblings, is why she came under the spell of Jeffrey Epstein.

“It is striking that Ghislaine did not show any perverse behaviour [sic] before she met Epstein,” they wrote. “Nor did she show any after leaving him, which she eventually managed to do.”

Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty in December on multiple charges related to the sex trafficking of minors and sexual abuse. The jury agreed with prosecutors that Maxwell recruited and groomed teenage girls for financier Jeffrey Epstein, who hanged himself in his jail cell in 2019 following his arrest for sex trafficking charges.

Maxwell is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28.