She doesn’t have any tricks left up her sleeve.
Ghislaine Maxwell appears to be out of options — and could spend the rest of her days behind bars now that she’s been found guilty of luring underage girls to be abused by Jeffrey Epstein, legal experts said Thursday.
“The government is going to go for the jugular here,” said Neama Rahmani, a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor in California. “She faces a real possibility that she’s going to die in federal prison.”
Maxwell, 60, could end up in prison for up to 65 years based on the five charges she was convicted of Wednesday, with the most serious, sex-trafficking, alone carrying a maximum sentence of 40 years.
Her defense attorney, Bobbi Sternheim, said that an appeal was already in the works and said: “We are confident that she will be vindicated.”
Rahmani and other former federal prosecutors, however, didn’t see a way out for Maxwell in the appeals process, which would likely focus on whether the disgraced socialite received a fair trial.
“I don’t see any obvious appeal issue that would give me much hope if I was in Maxwell’s position,” said Elie Honig, who spent eight years as a prosecutor in the Southern District of New York.
Other than accepting her guilt, cooperating would be the way for the manipulative madam to have her sentence reduced, the experts said.
It’s “very unusual… but not impossible,” for the government to try and get a defendant to flip after trial, Honig said, noting the process usually takes place before someone is convicted.
Prosecutors would also only attempt to get Maxwell’s cooperation if they intended to use the information to bring further charges, which would be dependent on factors like statute of limitations.
“You would never sign up someone like Ghislaine Maxwell and give (her) a chance to get a significant sentencing break if you intended to just get her information and put it in a folder and say well that’s interesting,” Honig said.
Laurie Levenson, another former federal prosecutor, and current Loyola Law School criminal law professor, also said it’s “possible” Maxwell will try to start naming names.
“Whether the government is going to think that’s worth their while is another question,” Levenson noted. “But that’s probably the last available way she could help herself.”
For now, it seems like Maxwell’s fate is sealed — and she will face a “hefty” sentence when that yet-to-be-set date comes.
“She’s looking at a hefty sentence that could land her behind bars for most or even all of the rest of her life,” said Honig.
It could be several months before Maxwell’s sentencing, as prosecutors, the defense and the probations department make their recommendations to the judge, who did not set a date following the jury’s verdict.
Prosecutors will calculate their recommended punishment based on federal sentencing guidelines, weighing a number of variables including that Maxwell is a first-time offender.
“There are a lot of factors that could play in here to bump that number up,” such as that there were “vulnerable victims of a complex scheme” and Maxwell “was arguably a leader or organizer of this scheme,” Honig said.
Levenson said that based on the guidelines and the fact that Maxwell has no priors, she could get as low as 10 to 15 years.
“Unlike state sentences where a defendant could earn ‘good time/work time’ conduct credits, defendants usually must serve most of a federal sentence,” she added.
Rahmani’s estimated calculation, however, was that prosecutors would recommend between 20 to 25 years.
It would then be up to Judge Alison Nathan to decide whether to go up to the maximum.
He didn’t see Nathan or prosecutors going easy on Maxwell — because she hasn’t owned up to her crimes.
“She hasn’t accepted responsibility for anything,” said Rahmani, co-founder of Los Angeles-based law firm West Coast Trial Lawyers. “Her defense team went after these victims, called them liars, said this was all fabricated … and a money grab.”
Even if she does ever taste freedom again, Maxwell would likely be branded a sex offender upon release, Rahmani and Levenson said.
In the meantime, the one-time jet-setting heiress is awaiting her sentencing from her cell in Brooklyn’s notorious Metropolitan Detention Center, where she’s been locked up since her July 2020 arrest.
Maxwell’s legal team and family have frequently griped about the conditions at the lockup — but her post-sentencing prison prospects don’t look much better.
The prison she ends up at won’t be a cushy one like “Camp Cupcake,” the Alderson, West Virginia, lockup where Martha Stewart served out her sentence for financial crimes — or any of the other “Club Feds,” said Justin Paperny, a federal prison consultant with White Collar Advice.
“Because she’s convicted of a sex offense, she would be ineligible for a minimum security camp,” said Paperny, adding Maxwell is more likely to end up in a low to medium-security prison.
Where Maxwell will ultimately be up to the Bureau of Prisons, which doesn’t comment on individual cases.
Factors the BOP considers include “security and supervision the inmate requires, any medical or programming needs, separation and security measures to ensure the inmates protection, and other considerations including proximity to an individual’s release residence,” said spokesman Donald Murphy.
While she waits out her appeal, Maxwell could still give media interviews or even write a memoir — but that would only open her up to more legal troubles.
State authorities could file suit in order to confiscate any money she makes from any book or movie deals.