Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell say she should face no more than four or five years in prison, instead of the possible 30-year term she stands at risk of.
The British socialite is currently in jail, where her legal team say she has been the target of a credible death threat from a fellow inmate who has apparently been offered money for her murder.
Her legal team said in a Manhattan federal court submission that Maxwell deserves leniency, calling it “a travesty of justice for her to face a sentence that would have been appropriate for Epstein”.
“Epstein was the mastermind, Epstein was the principal abuser, and Epstein orchestrated the crimes for his personal gratification,” the lawyers wrote.
“Indeed, had Ghislaine Maxwell never had the profound misfortune of meeting Jeffrey Epstein over 30 years ago, she would not be here.”
Maxwell, who was described as “dangerous” and Epstein’s “partner in crime” by the prosecution at her trial, was convicted on five of the six counts she was charged with and is due to be sentenced on 28 June.
Epstein took his own life as he was awaiting a federal sex trafficking trial in New York in 2019.
Maxwell’s lawyers added that she “is not an heiress, villain, or vapid socialite” and has not deserved the “drumbeat of public condemnation calling for her to be locked away for good”.
They said her life has been ruined and she has faced onerous and punitive jail conditions since her arrest in July 2020, arguing that she should be given leniency.
Probation officials have recommended a 20-year sentence, but said her conviction could call for 25 to 30 years.
Her lawyers said probation calculated the guidelines wrong and that a proper calculation would result in no more than four to five years in prison.
Addressing her time in incarceration, the legal team said Maxwell has been the subject of a credible death threat by a fellow female inmate who has supposedly told at least three others that she had been offered money to murder Maxwell and that she planned to strangle her in her sleep.
They added that she had been placed on suicide watch after the trial verdict.
In April a judge refused to throw out Maxwell’s conviction after a juror disclosed during deliberations that he had been sexually abused as a child.