Bernie Madoff did time there. So did John Gotti Jr. Paul Manafort is currently in residence. Jeffrey Epstein — inmate 76318-054 — just moved in.
The hulking Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan is several miles and worlds away from Epstein's mansion near Central Park. Among his new neighbors is the Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who has been holed up in the federal jail's notorious 10 South wing for more than two years.
One of Guzman's lawyers, Jeffrey Lichtman, said he was astonished to see Epstein two days after his arrest wearing a jail-issued uniform in a holding cell on 10 South. "There he was, sitting there, all alone," Lichtman said. "This unit is completely isolating."
If Epstein is there full-time right now, "he won't have any contact with others," Lichtman said. Bureau of Prisons authorities confirmed Epstein is being held at the facility. Epstein's lawyers didn't answer e-mails seeking comment.
A registered sex offender facing new sex-trafficking charges, Epstein could get permission to leave the MCC as early as Monday, when he is scheduled for a bail hearing. What conditions might U.S. District Judge Richard Berman require to release him? Possibly a "substantial" cash amount (possibly tens of millions of dollars), a home-confinement mandate and an electronic-monitoring device, said Brandon Sample, a defense attorney and sentencing-reform advocate who served more than 11 years in federal prison.
In the meantime, Epstein — who has access to two private planes and owns a private island in the Caribbean — will be doing what has been described as fairly hard time. The contrast between his recent gilded existence and his life at the MCC is like "night and day," said Alan Ellis, a consultant and criminal defense lawyer. "And that would be understating it."
Epstein, 66, probably has been assigned to a room no larger than 100 square feet equipped with only a bed, a toilet with an attached sink and a wedge of a desk, Sample said. For reference, Epstein's Manhattan home is 50 feet wide and, according to the government's detention memo, is worth more than $77 million.
If in fact he is still in 10 South — the special unit where alleged terrorists and other high-profile inmates are held, sometimes for their own protection — he is spending 23 hours a day confined to his cell and allowed out for one hour to exercise alone, said Sam Schmidt, a criminal defense lawyer who has represented al-Qaida operatives held there.
The conditions are a far cry from the last time Epstein was jailed. After pleading guilty in Florida to state felony prostitution charges in 2008, he was sentenced to serve 18 months in the Palm Beach County jail. During that time, he was permitted to hire his own security detail and was allowed to work at his West Palm Beach office for as many as 12 hours a day for up to six days a week.