The Relentless Ego of Ghislaine Maxwell

So, Chapter Two of the Jeffrey Epstein saga comes almost to a close. Almost, because we won’t know the final ending until we hear the sentencing, which is likely to be a doozie! 

Sure, there will be an appeal and there have been shockers in the past, think R. Kelly in 2008. But this is not likely to be one of those. 

So Ghislaine, was it worth it? The ride you had with your buddy Jeff, that is? Did the two of you simply mock the concept of Karma, Cause & Effect, What Goes Around Comes Around, different ways to say the same thing? Did you just buy his line that you were  “Teflon Twins” and they’d never get you. What?

Please tell us, explain so there’s some way to think something good and worthwhile about at least you, cause its sure hard to find in this wreckage! 

The Relentless Ego of Ghislaine Maxwell

The British socialite, who has been convicted of conspiring with her late partner, Jeffrey Epstein, to groom minors for sexual abuse, continues to act like she has nothing to be ashamed of.

A photograph of Ghislaine Maxwell leaving her car.
During Ghislaine Maxwell’s court case, her brand of chilly hauteur has been on full display.Photograph by Mathieu Polak / Sygma / Getty 

On Wednesday afternoon, Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of conspiring with her late partner, Jeffrey Epstein, to recruit, groom, and sexually abuse underage girls, during a period spanning from 1994 to 2004. Maxwell, a former socialite and a daughter of the British media mogul Robert Maxwell, who maintained her innocence throughout the trial, was convicted of five of the six charges of which she was accused, and faces up to sixty-five years behind bars. (Judge Alison J. Nathan, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, has yet to set a date for her sentencing.) When the jury announced its verdict, Maxwell, who was wearing a black mask and dark clothing, sat very still. According to the Times, she took a sip of water and touched her face briefly, before being ushered out of the courtroom. At no point did she betray any emotion.

For those of us who have been following United States v. Ghislaine Maxwell, the defendant’s sangfroid didn’t come as much of a surprise. The trial opened this past November, in Manhattan federal court, more than two years after Epstein, the disgraced financier, was found hanging in his jail cell, where he was awaiting his own trial for allegedly coercing dozens of young women and teen-age girls into sexual acts. In the course of Maxwell’s trial, which was widely seen as a last chance at justice for Epstein’s victims, four women—who were all under the age of eighteen when they first met the pair—testified to Epstein’s sex crimes, which were facilitated by Maxwell, and their words were often harrowing. (“She has caused hurt to many more women than the few of us who had the chance to testify in the courtroom,” one victim said.) And yet, aside from occasionally consulting with her legal team and taking notes, Maxwell remained sphinxlike throughout the trial, expressing no frailty and certainly no regret. One can only assume that this stance did not win her very many points with the jury.

Maxwell’s brand of chilly hauteur was on full display, early on, when the socialite, who was being drawn by a courtroom sketch artist, began to sketch the artist back—an act which, in its attempt to reverse the roles, smacked of a certain derision for the gravity of the proceedings around her. The moment, which became something of an Internet meme in the days that followed, also reminded me of Maxwell’s brazen gaze when she was photographed at—or arguably Photoshopped into a picture of—a Los Angeles-area In-N-Out Burger, soon after Epstein’s death. This was a woman who has long acted, and has continued to act, as if she had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. (Her lead attorney has said that her team is already working on an appeal of the verdict.) When given a chance to explain her side of things, in court, Maxwell declined to take the stand, stating that “the government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and so there is no need for me to testify.”

The government’s case, however, was damning. As Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe noted in her closing argument, Maxwell “ran the same playbook over and over and over again as she exploited young girls,” preying on teens who often came from difficult family situations by reassuring them with her presence, acting the part of the “posh, smiling, respectable, age-appropriate woman.” (Judging from the stories the victims told on the stand, it seems that Maxwell was able to tone down her arrogant stonewalling when she wanted to.) She offered the girls money and gifts, such as Victoria’s Secret underwear, in return for them giving Epstein “massages,” which were merely a smoke screen for sexual abuse. One victim, testifying under the pseudonym Jane, told the court that, beginning when she was fourteen, Maxwell not only made her feel more comfortable with the increasingly sexualized atmosphere in Epstein’s estate in Palm Beach, Florida, but also actively participated in her abuse. “She, along with others, would just start taking their clothes off,” Jane said. “And Jeffrey would get on the massage table, and it would just, you know, sort of turn into this orgy.”

A second victim, testifying under the pseudonym Kate, told the court that when she was seventeen, Maxwell recruited her, under the guise of a friendly favor, to give Epstein a massage, which led to Kate being sexually abused for the next several years. (“She asked me if I had fun and told me that I was such a good girl, and that I was one of his favorites,” Kate said, of Maxwell.) A third woman, who testified under her first name, Carolyn, recounted how, starting at the age of fourteen and continuing until she was eighteen, she would come to Epstein’s Palm Beach estate two or three times a week to give him sexualized massages—appointments that were often scheduled by Maxwell, who would then be present to greet Carolyn on her arrival. On one occasion, Maxwell entered the massage room where Carolyn was standing in the nude: “She came in and felt my boobs and my hips and my buttocks and said that . . . I had a great body for Mr. Epstein and his friends,” Carolyn testified. She also said that when she confessed to Maxwell that her own grandfather had begun raping her when she was four years old, this revelation didn’t seem to deter Maxwell and Epstein from continuing to abuse her. A fourth woman, Annie Farmer—the only victim who testified under her own full name—spoke of Maxwell’s grooming methods: the socialite bought Farmer, who was sixteen at the time, cowboy boots and engaged her in amiable conversation, and later gave her a sexualized massage at Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico.

Officially, Maxwell was in charge of managing Epstein’s various properties, overseeing tasks from the mundane to the whimsical: Cimberly Espinosa, a former assistant of Maxwell’s at the Epstein office who appeared as a witness for the defense, recalled that, after the financier purchased his Caribbean island, Little Saint James, he was unsatisfied with the amount of sand and palm trees on the premises, and deputized Maxwell to deliver more of both. Both Espinosa and another onetime Epstein office employee, Michelle Healy, who also served as a defense witness, praised Maxwell’s managerial abilities. Maxwell was “fantastic,” Healy said. “She taught me a lot. I respected her. She was tough. But she was great.” Espinosa said that she “learned a lot from her as far as administrative and being able to handle a lot of calls, a lot of duties. It was a very high-volume work.” (Both witnesses denied involvement in any wrongdoing.)

As I followed these testimonies to Maxwell’s on-the-ball competence, it struck me that the same acumen that she used in her aboveboard professional life served her just as well in her more private role: that of making sure there was a constant stream of mostly underage girls to fulfill Epstein’s voracious, monstrous sexual appetite. Maxwell’s real job “was to take care of Jeffrey’s needs,” Kate noted, in her testimony. “She said that he needed massages all the time and it was very difficult to keep up.” Later, she added that Maxwell would ask her if she “knew anybody who could come and give Jeffrey a blow job because . . . it was a lot for her to do.” The jokiness of the question concealed a steely discipline. In the household manual Maxwell distributed to employees at Epstein’s properties, she “wrote out a detailed list of thirteen different oils and lotions for massages in Palm Beach,” Moe said, while in the phone book that Maxwell shared with Epstein, she kept a running list of dozens of available masseuses, some of them accompanied with notations such as “mom,” “dad,” or “parents,” suggesting that these were not professional bodyworkers but amateur minors. In his testimony for the prosecution, Juan Alessi, who was in charge of managing Epstein’s Palm Beach house, was asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey about Maxwell’s household manual. From cleaning instructions to meal-serving etiquette and privacy concerns—“remember that you see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing,” the manual read—Maxwell had “many, many, many rules,” Alessi said. Comey asked Alessi if he had seen any females coming into Epstein’s Palm Beach house in the years he worked there. “Many, many, many females,” he responded.

What did Maxwell get out of being Epstein’s right-hand woman? The government emphasized the material benefits she gained, noting that, as the “lady of the house,” she was able to maintain the luxurious and rarefied life style she was accustomed to as Robert Maxwell’s daughter. (Her father, who died in 1991, under mysterious circumstances, was revealed as a financially ruined fraudster after his passing.) “She spent her weeks flying around on Epstein’s private jet from his mansion on the Upper East Side to his ranch in New Mexico, to his villa in Palm Beach, to his apartment in Paris, and to his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Moe explained, in her closing argument. The court was also shown documents indicating that, between 1999 and 2007, Epstein transferred more than thirty million dollars to Maxwell’s account. “I want you to think about the few hundred dollars that Carolyn got every time that she was sexually abused. And I want you to think about the thirty million dollars that Ghislaine Maxwell got from Jeffrey Epstein,” Moe said, drawing a stark class-based contrast between the perpetrator and her victims. Later, Comey referred to the multimillion-dollar sum that Maxwell received from Epstein as “we-molested-kids-together money.”

This was a relationship in which one kind of brutal self-interest—a desire for material wealth—meshed perfectly, disastrously, with another, shunting to the side any kind of moral consideration. As I was following the trial, I happened to pick up Émile Zola’s 1871 novel, “The Kill,” in which the decadent Parisian wife of a wealthy speculator sleeps with her stepson. “She ended by believing that she lived in a world above common morality,” Zola wrote. “Sin became a luxury, a flower set in her hair, a diamond fastened on her brow.” Reading these words, I could imagine a similar logic at play for Maxwell.

In the period leading up to Maxwell’s trial, a number of unproved, often bizarre conspiracy theories proliferated: Was Epstein’s apparent suicide, in fact, an inside-job murder, perpetuated by powerful accomplices—Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump among them—to silence him? Was there something fishy about Maurene Comey, daughter of the former F.B.I. director James Comey, serving as the lead prosecutor in the Maxwell case? (After Epstein’s suicide, Comey was one of the attorneys who filed a letter stating that the CCTV footage of Epstein’s jail cell at the time of his death had been erased.) There was widespread pessimism about the government’s ability, or willingness, to get this one right, which wasn’t eased by the fact that the jury took several nerve-racking days of deliberations to reach a consensus. And so, when a verdict finally came, there was cause for relief: a modicum of trust in the system’s ability to function had been restored. But there’s still a long way to go. In the coming weeks, Prince Andrew will stand trial in the same Manhattan federal court for a claim brought by one of Epstein’s victims. It is yet to be seen whether Maxwell’s conviction is the start of a widespread reckoning—one that finally unravels the skein of the Epstein affair—or just an exception to prove the rule.

Kirkus Reviews, the gold-standard for independent & accurate reviews, has this to say about

What Goes Around Comes Around:

A stable, positive, non preachy, objective voice makes the book stand apart from others in the genre. A successful guide that uses anecdotes to reveal powerful truths about life.

~ Kirkus Reviews

“The author gives readers not just points or principles to ponder, but real human experiences that demonstrate them!
Kirkus Reviews
Buy What Goes Around at Amazon

“I’ve read a number of books that focus on sharing a similar message, including “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, “The Answer” by John Assaraf & Murray Smith, “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield, “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill, and I must say that I find Rob’s to be my favorite. – Sheryl Woodhouse, founder of Livelihood Matters LLC

The Relentless Ego of Ghislaine Maxwell

The Relentless Ego of Ghislaine Maxwell

So, Chapter Two of the Jeffrey Epstein saga comes almost to a close. Almost, because we won’t know the final ending until we hear the sentencing, which is likely to be a doozie!

Sure, there will be an appeal and there have been shockers in the past, think R. Kelly in 2008. But this is not likely to be one of those.

So Ghislaine, was it worth it? The ride you had with your buddy Jeff, that is? Did the two of you simply mock the concept of Karma, Cause & Effect, What Goes Around Comes Around, different ways to say the same thing? Did you just buy his line that you were  “Teflon Twins” and they’d never get you. What?

Please tell us, explain so there’s some way to think something good and worthwhile about at least you, cause its sure hard to find in this wreckage!

Colombo Family Crime Boss and 12 Others Are Arrested, Prosecutors Say

An indictment unsealed on Tuesday accuses the organization of orchestrating a two-decade scheme to extort a labor union.

Credit…Jesse Ward


For two decades, the leadership of the Colombo crime family extorted a Queens labor union, federal prosecutors said — an effort that continued unabated even as members of the mob clan cycled through prison, the family’s notorious longtime boss died, and as federal law enforcement closed in.

Over time, what began as a Colombo captain’s shakedown of a union leader, complete with expletive-laced threats of violence, expanded into a cottage industry, prosecutors said, as the Colombo organization assumed control of contracting and union business, with side operations in phony construction certificates, marijuana trafficking and loan-sharking.

On Tuesday, 11 reputed members and associates of the Colombo crime family, including the mob clan’s entire leadership, were charged in a labor racketeering case brought by the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn.

All but two of the men were arrested Tuesday morning across New York and New Jersey, prosecutors said. Another was surrendered to the authorities on Tuesday; another defendant, identified as the family consigliere, remained at large, prosecutors said.

The indictment accuses the Colombo family of orchestrating a two-decade scheme to extort an unnamed labor union that represented construction workers, using threats of violence to secure payments and arrange contracts that would benefit the crime family.

The charges are an ambitious effort by the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to take down one of the city’s five Mafia families. In addition to the union extortion scheme, which is the heart of the racketeering charge, the indictment charges several misdeeds often associated with the mob, including drug trafficking, money laundering, loan-sharking and falsifying federal labor safety paperwork.

Detention hearings for the defendants in Brooklyn federal court continued into the evening Tuesday, as they entered not-guilty pleas to the charges; prosecutors had asked the court to keep 10 of the defendants in custody.

“Everything we allege in this investigation proves history does indeed repeat itself,” Michael J. Driscoll, F.B.I. assistant director-in-charge, said in a statement. “The underbelly of the crime families in New York City is alive and well.”

Around 2001, prosecutors said, Vincent Ricciardo — a reported captain in the family, also known as “Vinny Unions” — began to demand a portion of a senior labor union official’s salary. When Mr. Ricciardo was convicted and imprisoned on federal racketeering charges in the mid-2000s, prosecutors said, his cousin continued to collect those payments.

Starting in late 2019, prosecutors said, the senior leadership of the Colombo family became directly involved in the shakedown, which extended to broader efforts to siphon money from the union: for example, manipulating the selection of union health fund vendors to contract with entities connected to the family, and diverting more than $10,000 each month from the fund to the family.

Sign up for the New York Today Newsletter  Each morning, get the latest on New York businesses, arts, sports, dining, style and more. 

Andrew Russo, 87, who prosecutors describe as the family boss, is accused of taking part in those efforts, as well as a money-laundering scheme to send the proceeds of the union extortion through intermediaries to Colombo associates. He was among nine defendants charged with racketeering.

Mr. Russo appeared in court virtually from the hospital Tuesday; he is set to be detained upon his release, pending a future bail hearing.

The family’s infamous longtime boss, Carmine J. Persico, died in federal custody in North Carolina in March 2019.

Federal law enforcement learned of the extortion scheme about a year ago, prosecutors wrote in a court filing Tuesday; investigators gathered thousands of hours of wiretapped calls and conversations recorded by a confidential witness, wrote the prosecutors, who also described law-enforcement surveillance of meetings among the accused conspirators.

The authorities said they repeatedly captured Mr. Ricciardo and his associates threatening to kill the union official. “I’ll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids,” Mr. Ricciardo was recorded saying in June.

On another occasion cited by prosecutors in the memo seeking his detention, Mr. Ricciardo directed the union official to hire a consultant selected by the Colombo family, saying: “It’s my union and that’s it.” Prosecutors said his activities were overseen by a Colombo soldier and the consigliere who remains at large.

Much of the activity outlined in the indictment took place while the defendants were either in prison or on supervised release for prior federal mob-related convictions. Theodore Persico Jr., described as a family captain and soldier, was released from federal prison in 2020 and, despite a directive not to associate with members of organized crime, “directed much of the labor racketeering scheme,” prosecutors said.

Mr. Persico, 58, is set to inherit the role of boss after Mr. Russo, prosecutors wrote.

Several of the defendants were named in what prosecutors described as a fraudulent safety training scheme, in which they falsified state and federal paperwork that is required for construction workers to show they have completed safety training courses.

One of the defendants, John Ragano — whom prosecutors say is a soldier in the Bonanno crime family — is accused of setting up phony occupational safety training schools in New York, which prosecutors said were “mills” that provided fraudulent safety training certificates to hundreds of people.

In October 2020, prosecutors said, an undercover law enforcement officer visited one of the schools in Ozone Park, Queens, and received, from Mr. Ricciardo’s cousin, a blank test form and an answer sheet; weeks later, the agent returned to pick up his federal safety card and paid $500.

The purported schools were also used for meetings with members of La Cosa Nostra — the group of crime families commonly known as the Mafia — and to store illegal drugs and fireworks, according to the indictment.

Mr. Ragano wasn’t charged on the racketeering count, although prosecutors also sought his detention pending trial. In addition to the racketeering count, several defendants, including Mr. Ricciardo and his cousin, were charged with extortion, conspiracy, fraud and conspiracy to make false statements.

William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.


An earlier version of this article misstated the number of people identified in an indictment as members of the Colombo crime family. It is 11, not more than a dozen.