NEW YORK - One of Ghislaine Maxwell's fellow detainees at the Brooklyn federal lockup plotted to murder her, a defense lawyer said in a court filing Wednesday aimed at lightening Maxwell's sentence on sex trafficking charges for procuring young women for Jeffrey Epstein.
"(One) of the female inmates in Ms. Maxwell's housing unit told at least three other inmates that she had been offered money to murder Ms. Maxwell and that she planned to strangle her in her sleep," wrote lawyer Bobbi Sternheim.
Maxwell's lawyer included the claim in papers filed ahead of her sentencing on June 28.
"The inmate who made the threat has been moved to the SHU (special housing unit), presumably to protect Ms. Maxwell," Sternheim wrote. In federal prisons like Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center, special housing units are solitary confinement.
"This incident reflects the brutal reality that there are numerous prison inmates who would not hesitate to kill Ms. Maxwell - whether for money, fame, or simple 'street cred,' " Sternheim wrote.
Federal Bureau of Prisons officials did not immediately respond to a query about Maxwell's claim.
The filing also revealed graphic allegations of abuse Maxwell allegedly suffered at the hands of her father, disgraced British publishing baron Robert Maxwell. It describes her upbringing as "a difficult, traumatic childhood with an overbearing, narcissistic, and demanding father," who died in 1991, right before she met Epstein.
"Ghislaine vividly recalls a time when, at age 13, she tacked a poster of a pony on the newly painted wall of her bedroom. Rather than mar the paint with tape, she carefully hammered a thin tack to mount the poster," wrote Sternheim.
"This outraged her father, who took the hammer and banged on Ghislaine's dominant hand, leaving it severely bruised and painful for weeks to come."
Sternheim wrote that Robert Maxwell's "corporal punishment" of his children primed his daughter to be mentally manipulated by Epstein.
"It made her vulnerable to Epstein, whom she met right after her father's death. It is the biggest mistake she made in her life and one that she has not and never will repeat."
The sentencing submission also includes details about a psychiatric evaluation Maxwell underwent in jail, which reported that her personality had changed since her summer 2020 arrest in New Hampshire. The doctor's letter quotes Maxwell's lawyer and longtime associate, Leah Saffian, as noting a "marked deterioration" in her well-being.
"Ms. Saffian added that recently, Ms. Maxwell has completely lost her sense of humor and often 'misses the beat,' " reads the August 2021 letter by Alexander Sasha Bardey, which was heavily redacted.
Maxwell's lawyers asked Manhattan Federal Court Judge Alison Nathan to sentence her to less than the 20 years recommended by probation authorities, who recommended the 61-year-old serve less time than federal guidelines suggest. Nathan upheld Maxwell's conviction in April after she asked for a new trial based on a juror who withheld being abused as a child.
"We further acknowledge that Maxwell is not solely responsible for the horrendous and irreparable damage caused by the decade," reads an excerpt of the probation department's report included in the defense filing.
A jury found Maxwell guilty on Dec. 29 of aiding notorious financier Epstein's sex trafficking of teenage girls from 1994 to 2004. Epstein died by suicide in 2019 at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.
Prosecutors declined to comment on the filing