NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York denied bail Thursday to financier Jeffrey Epstein while he awaits trial on sex trafficking charges .
Federal prosecutors argued Epstein was a flight risk after exploiting dozens of girls in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.
The defense wanted him to await trial under house arrest with electronic monitoring at his $77 million Manhattan mansion. They said he would not run and would be willing to pledge a fortune of at least $559 million as collateral.
At a hearing Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller said the government's case against Epstein is "getting stronger every single day" as more women contact authorities to say he sexually abused them when they were minors.
One of his accusers who said she was sexually abused by Epstein when she was 14 in Palm Beach, Florida, pleaded with the judge to keep him jailed.
"He's a scary person to have walking the streets," Courtney Wild said to the judge during the Monday hearing.
Rossmiller said the government learned earlier this week that a raid of Epstein's mansion following his July 6 arrest turned up "piles of cash, dozens of diamonds" and a passport with a picture of the defendant but a name other than his in a locked safe.
In a court filing Wednesday, prosecutors disputed a claim by defense lawyers that there was no evidence he'd ever used it, saying the Austrian passport contained stamps reflecting it was used to enter France, Spain, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia in the 1980s.
A day earlier, defense lawyers sought to allay concerns over the apparently phony travel document by telling the judge in a court filing that Epstein obtained it decades ago out of fear that "as an affluent member of the Jewish faith" he might be kidnapped in the Middle East.
Prosecutors have also argued Epstein was a risk of trying to influence witnesses after it was discovered he had paid a total of $350,000 to two people, including a former employee, in the last year. That came after the Miami Herald reported the circumstances of his state court conviction in 2008, which led to a 13-month jail term and a plea deal that allowed him to avoid a federal prosecution .
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned last week after coming under renewed criticism for overseeing the decade-old arrangement as U.S. attorney in Miami.
Lawyers for Epstein said their client has stayed clean since pleading guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution charges in Florida in 2008 and that the federal government is reneging on the plea deal.