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Jeffrey Epstein’s Charity Donated $50K To New York Jewish Federation

Sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s charity donated $50,000 in 2017 to UJA-Federation of New York, the nation’s largest local Jewish federation.

A U.S. Virgin Islands-based charity called Gratitude America, Ltd. donated more than $1.2 million to a variety of organizations in 2017, including $50,000 to the federation, according to tax records. The Daily Beast reported in April that Epstein, who has a home in the Virgin Islands, was the source of those donations.

The Daily Beast article also mentioned UJA as one of Gratitude America’s financial recipients, along with schools, disease research organizations and the charitable foundations of Elton John and Deepak Chopra, among others.

UJA-Federation did not respond to requests for comment by the Forward’s deadline.

Some organizations that were listed as recipients of Epstein’s recent charity claimed to NBC News on Thursday that they never received any donations from him.

Epstein, a financier, was arrested last week on sex trafficking charges dating to alleged events between 2002 and 2005. He was a prominent philanthropist before he pleaded guilty in 2008 to a prostitution charge and registered as a sex offender. The deal was brokered by then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta and has since been criticized for its leniency, secrecy and grant of immunity to any co-conspirators, eventually leading to Acosta’s resignation this week as Secretary of Labor.

UJA is one of the biggest Jewish organizations in America, conducting programming and providing grants to groups in New York, Israel and around the world. It reported revenue of $223 million in 2016, the most recent year tax records are available.

Epstein is Jewish, and many prominent Jews have faced their own questions about their connections to him.

One of Epstein’s only known financial clients is Les Wexner, the owner of Victoria’s Secret. A Wexner spokesperson told CNBC that Wexner had “severed ties” with Epstein more than a decade ago.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Epstein served as a trustee of the Wexner Foundation, a charity that has given tens of millions of dollars to Jewish causes. Epstein’s attorney, Darren Indyke, served in that time as the secretary of the foundation’s board, and later served in the same position on the board of Gratitude America.

One of the women whose accusations led to Epstein’s newest charges claims that she was sexually assaulted in Wexner’s home, and Wexner reportedly sold to Epstein in 2011 the New York townhouse that police raided earlier this month.

Epstein also reportedly bankrolled a large investment in a high-tech company founded by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2014. Current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on Barak to explain whether Epstein played a role in the Wexner Foundation’s payments to Barak in the mid-2000s. The Wexner Foundation’s 2004 and 2006 tax records show a combined $1.8 million in payments to Barak, categorizing his work for the foundation as “research.”

In an mass email sent Friday Wexner Foundation president Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson, confirmed that Epstein was a former trustee but that they had “cut ties more than a decade ago.”

“Needless to say, it is a highly disturbing story,” Abrahamson continued. “Sexual abuse and trafficking is abhorrent and when it involves minors, all the more so. It runs contrary to every value we believe in and teach, especially the fundamental tenet that all human beings are created in God’s image. This is an individual who utterly twisted and tossed aside that sacred notion. We are sickened by Mr. Epstein’s behavior.”

Correction, July 16: A previous version of this article stated that Alex Acosta was a district attorney at the time of the government’s plea bargain with Jeffrey Epstein. In fact, Acosta was the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Aiden Pink is the deputy news editor of the Forward. Contact him at pink@forward.com or follow him on Twitter @aidenpink

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Jeffrey Epstein’s Charity Donated $50K To New York Jewish Federation

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