Dead men tell no tales, but their friends and business associates might.
In the aftermath of convicted sex offender and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide in a Manhattan jail, the focus has shifted to his inner circle in a scramble to uncover how exactly the multimillionaire made his money, the extent of his crimes, and who participated in his alleged misdeeds.
One of those in the 66-year-old’s inner circle, L Brands CEO Les Wexner — whose vast wealth Epstein managed — has reportedly been handing over documents to the authorities claiming Epstein misappropriated funds.
Meanwhile, Epstein's longtime corporate attorneys, Darren Indyke and Jeffrey Schantz, have hired criminal defense attorneys, according to The New York Times.
A Yahoo Finance investigation reveals Indyke’s and Schantz’s deep involvement in Epstein’s business transactions and their personal relationships with the disgraced financier. Our findings suggest that Epstein was by far the lawyers’ biggest client. In fact, we were unable to find records of their work with any clients other than Epstein or his associates. Indyke’s signature in particular spans across numerous filings involving Eptein’s foundations, trusts, entities, and business dealings.
Indyke’s long association with Epstein
In Darren Keith Indyke’s 1982 senior yearbook, he wrote that in the year 2002 he would be “‘performing’ [his] first case for the Supreme Court quoting Al Pacino.” Instead, Indyke, who went on to graduate from Cornell Law School, was filing paperwork for Epstein.
Indyke, a 54-year-old Long Island native, has been by Epstein’s side since at least 1995, according to public records. Indkye’s name appears on charitable filings, real estate records, trademark filings, and other business matters related to Epstein and his inner circle.
He has also done work for Wexner and for the British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been accused in civil lawsuits of enabling Epstein’s exploitation of young girls. (She has not been criminally charged and denies wrongdoing.) Indyke also signed a deed that certified the sale of a Palm Beach home that had belonged to the late Arnold Paul Prosperi, an associate of Epstein’s who visited him frequently in jail.
The day Epstein went to jail in July 2008, Indyke himself was there to visit — he visited his client at least 38 times over the 13-month period, according to jail logs.
The documents that bear Indyke’s and Epstein’s names speak to where the latter hoped to exert or build his influence and how Indyke helped Epstein do so.
Indyke has been involved with virtually all of Epstein’s business dealings in the last two decades — his name appears as the treasurer and vice president of Epstein’s three most prominent nonprofits: The C.O.U.Q. Foundation, Gratitude America Ltd., and the J. Epstein Virgin Islands Foundation, also sometimes known as Enhanced Education. The latter two charitable giving organizations are registered in the U.S. Virgin Islands, while the C.O.U.Q. Foundation, defunct since 2012, was based in New York State.
The foundations' giving records show donations to colleges, research foundations, and arts organizations. Other beneficiaries include the Clinton Foundation, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and the Edge Foundation, an educational research organization that recently scrubbed Epstein from its website.
Indyke was listed as the treasurer of Gratitude America, which received a $10 million donation from an entity tied to private equity billionaire Leon Black of Apollo Management, according to a 990 form.
In March 2015, then-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Charities Bureau was reportedly looking into whether Epstein’s foundation was meeting state registration requirements. It’s not clear whether anything came of the inquiry, and Schneiderman himself resigned in 2018 following claims that he’d assaulted several women.
As Epstein’s life began to unravel a decade ago, Indyke remained by his side.
In March 2005, a then-14-year-old girl and her parents claimed that Epstein sexually abused her at his Palm Beach, Florida, mansion. Other teen girls made similar accusations against Epstein, and he ultimately agreed to plead guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor and to register as a sex offender.
As part of a controversially lenient non-prosecution agreement he signed with the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of Florida in September 2007, he also agreed to a 30-month sentence, including 18 months of jail time and 12 months of community control. In exchange, the U.S. attorney's office did not pursue federal charges.
Epstein only served 13 months in the Palm Beach County Stockade, where he occupied a private wing and had liberal work-release privileges of 12 hours per day, six days per week.
Indyke's signature appears on the work release program agreement as Epstein's employer, according to the document reviewed by Yahoo Finance. Further requests for documents, including the required letter of employment specified as part of the work release agreement, were denied because of an active criminal investigation.
For his work-release, Epstein worked at The Florida Science Foundation, his not-for-profit that said it aimed to “to finance scientific research on academic, organizational and individual levels,” according to the organization’s articles of incorporation. Records show that Indyke registered The Florida Science Foundation in November 2007, just after he signed the non-prosecution agreement.
Epstein paid the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office $128,000 between 2008 and 2009 through The Florida Science Foundation, according to WPTV 5, citing public records. Yahoo Finance’s request for those documents was unsuccessful. A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office said they were part of an “active and ongoing criminal [and] internal investigation.”
The Florida Science Foundation dissolved on September 25, 2009, after failing to file an annual report, records show.
While Epstein spent 13 months in the Palm Beach county stockade, Indyke made at least 38 visits to see him, according to a jail log. According to a 2010 deposition of Epstein's pilot, Larry Visoski, he believes it was Indyke who called him on the phone, saying Epstein wanted him to visit the county jail. Indeed, Visoski made many visits shortly after Epstein began his county jail sentence.
Upon release, Epstein copied Indyke on emails pertaining to his status as a sex offender. Emails produced by his defense team showed Epstein copied Indyke on four email messages, sent between July 2012 and July 2015, to a detective in New Mexico while spending time at his Zorro Ranch vacation home.
In October 2015, Indyke was also present via phone on behalf of Epstein during the deposition of high-profile lawyer and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who had been accused in a civil lawsuit of having sex with an underage girl who was also victimized by Epstein. Dershowitz has vehemently denied her accusations.
Indyke and Epstein’s circle
During Indyke’s 20-plus years with Epstein, he has also been connected with other associates of the now-deceased financier. He’s on documents connected to Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend, as well as Les Wexner, the L Brands CEO whose money Epstein managed. Indyke has also been tied to Lesley Groff, a longtime Epstein assistant, as well as Arnold Paul Prosperi a disbarred attorney who visited Epstein multiple times in jail.
Indyke’s name appears as a trustee on Maxwell’s nonprofit, the Max Foundation, which made small donations from 2002 to 2010 but has been largely dormant in recent years.
Separately, Indyke also helped Maxwell buy a 7,000-square-foot townhouse at 116 East 65th street in 2000, according to New York City property records. The New York Times reports that the townhouse was bought for $4.95 million by an anonymous limited liability company — 116 East 65th Street, LLC — that shared an address with J. Epstein & Co.
Indyke also used a 10th-floor unit in a building owned by Epstein as his primary office at 301 East 66th for nearly a decade, a Business Insider report stated, citing court records and attorney registration files. The company, DKI PLLC, was later listed as the point of contact for Epstein’s private foundation in 2008.
The lawyer’s relationship also extended to Wexner. Indyke was listed as the secretary for The Wexner Foundation in a 1998 SEC filing. In 2008, Abigail Wexner, the billionaire’s wife, also gave Indyke power of attorney over 15 Central Park West, according to New York real estate records.
Arnold Paul Prosperi — a former lawyer who visited Epstein more than 20 times in jail — also appears to have connections to Indyke. After Prosperi died in 2016, property records show that Indyke signed off on a warranty deed that transferred ownership of Prosperi’s South End lakefront home to Donna Ward for $5.6 million. (Prosperi made the news in 2011 for having a prison sentence for embezzlement commuted to house arrest by his college friend, President Bill Clinton)
In addition to Prosperi and Maxwell, Indyke also has ties to Groff, a longtime Epstein assistant accused in a civil lawsuit of making travel arrangements for underage girls who were abused by him. She lists herself as an “executive assistant” at “DKI PLLC” on her LinkedIn profile. Public records show that Indyke’s law practice is called DKI PLLC. But his 575 Lexington Avenue address is a “virtual office” — there was no law office there, and the building is now home to a WeWork.
Incidentally, a 2005 article in The New York Times about “top bosses” on Wall Street reported that Epstein paid for a full-time nanny for Groff so she could work for him after she had a baby. “There is no way that I could lose Lesley to motherhood,” Epstein said at the time.
Groff’s attorney, Michael Bachner, has issued the following statement:
“Lesley Groff worked as an executive assistant in Jeffrey Epstein's business office, along with attorneys and other executives. Ms. Groff never knowingly booked travel for anyone under the age of 18, and had no knowledge of the alleged illegal activity whatsoever. She is shocked and deeply distraught by the accusations and revelations concerning her former employer."
Subletting a government building
Lawyer Jeffrey A. Schantz, a 62-year-old Fordham University Law School graduate, does not appear to have been as intimately involved in Epstein’s business practices as Indyke: Public records show that Schantz also worked for Epstein since 1995, but his name is on significantly fewer of Epstein’s companies’ regulatory filings.
While Schantz’s name doesn’t appear prominently as the treasurer or vice president for any of Epstein’s known nonprofits, he was tied to one of the more unusual lawsuits against Epstein. The root of that 1996 lawsuit was an unorthodox real estate agreement between Epstein and the State Department. The State Department had seized an Upper East Side building from the Iranian government during that country’s revolution — and later rented it to Epstein for $15,000 a month, according to a New York Daily News account of the dispute.
Epstein, in turn, sublet the building to Ivan Fisher, a well-known criminal defense attorney, for $20,000 a month, the Daily News reported. The U.S. government sued both Epstein and Fisher, claiming the sublet was illegal, and court records tie Schantz to the rental property.
In a letter to the State Department in April 1996, according to court records reviewed by Yahoo Finance, Schantz wrote that his boss, Epstein, intended to renew the lease for the premises, and signed off as:
Jeffrey A. Schantz
J. Epstein & Company, Inc.
The Villard House
457 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10002
Later that year in October, Schantz wrote to Fisher, the subletter of the property, asking for payment, court records show. Fisher was a prominent criminal defense attorney who represented clients in the Pizza Connection — a case involving a massive 1980s heroin bust in New York— and a heroin dealers in “the French Connection” trials.
During Schantz’s deposition, he said he had worked with Epstein since May of 1995 and that Epstein was a client of Gold & Wachtel — the firm that Indyke also worked for, according to public records. He clarified that Gold & Wachtel’s work for Epstein involved corporate work and real estate matters, both residential and commercial.
The lawsuit suggests that Epstein was connected to James Baker III, who was secretary of state from 1989 to 1992 during the George H.W. Bush administration. At one point, according to court records, Schantz was asked, “Do you know how Mr. Epstein came to know Secretary of State James Baker?” to which he responded “No.”
In Ivan Fisher’s deposition in November 1997, he also noted that “Mr. Schantz did all the talking for Mr. Epstein.”
The Financial Trust Company
In 2002, Citibank sued Epstein and his company, the Financial Trust Company (FTC), claiming they defaulted on a $20 million loan. Citibank claims in its suit that it pitched Epstein two $10 million investment opportunities, and that he agreed to invest the money as long as the bank loaned him the amount.
Epstein borrowed the money but later later sued the bank, claiming it defrauded him. Citibank’s lawsuit that it fired back named two Epstein employees actively involved in dealing with Citibank on behalf of Epstein and FTC — New York-based lawyers Jeffrey A. Schantz and Darren K. Indyke. FTC’s incorporation documents also show that Indyke and Schantz were involved with some of his trusts, The New York Times reported.
Bonus docs: mysterious $88 million first appears in Financial Trust. Note his lawyers Darren Indyke and Jeffrey Schantz are officers pic.twitter.com/pQYe31T4NT
— Matthew Goldstein (@MattGoldstein26) August 12, 2019
In the early 2000s, when Epstein was a financial adviser to Wexner, a staggering $88 million suddenly appeared in FTC’s accounts, according to documents filed in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands and obtained by The New York Times Times. Over the next few years, money was periodically withdrawn from the offshore entity, the Times found, and after a few years, the money was periodically withdrawn. The sender and the recipient of the $88 million is unclear.
Attempts to reach both lawyers for this story were unsuccessful.
The reports that Indyke and Schantz have hired criminal defense attorneys suggest that they are well aware that, while Epstein is dead, prosecutions against his associates may not be over. Indeed, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman issued a statement shortly after Epstein’s death confirming the investigation will continue.
“To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so,” the statement said, “let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment — which included a conspiracy count — remains ongoing.”
Julia La Roche is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Calder McHugh is an associate editor at Yahoo Finance. email@example.com
Aarthi Swaminathan is a writer at Yahoo Finance. firstname.lastname@example.org