NEW YORK — Testifying Tuesday, Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime private pilot Lawrence “Larry” Visoski listed a litany of famous men he recognized on Epstein’s planes in the nearly 20 years he worked for him.
They included former Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, Prince Andrew and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell of Maine. But he said he never saw anyone having sex on Epstein’s planes — one of which earned the nickname the “Lolita Express” — nor did he ever see any women who appeared to be under the age of 20.
Visoski took the witness stand for the second straight day Tuesday in the New York trial of accused sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite charged with recruiting girls and young women and trafficking them to have sex with the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Visoski worked for the now-deceased financier from 1991 until Epstein’s arrest in 2019. Visoski piloted Epstein’s various jets, which Epstein used to transport young women. Several victims have said that at least one of his planes was fitted with cushioned floors so that it could be used for sex. At least one woman, now an adult but underage at the time, said they were directed to dress as candy stripers and in other provocative outfits for the entertainment of Epstein, Maxwell and other powerful people who flew on his plane over the years.
Visoski, however, has previously testified in civil suits that he was not privy to what went on outside the cockpit, and that he was unaware of any minors who were on the plane.
Mitchell, who served as a Maine senator from 1980 to 1995, had a friendship with Epstein that had been documented since the early 2000s. A woman who alleges that Epstein trafficked her for sex as a girl named Mitchell as one of the powerful men she was asked to visit as part of that trafficking ring, according to court documents unsealed in 2019.
The former senator denied that allegation at that time, saying he had never met the woman nor observed Epstein conducting himself inappropriately around underage girls. He has largely receded from public life since disclosing a leukemia diagnosis last year.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey questioned Visoski briefly on the witness stand Monday, asking him how and when he met Epstein and Maxwell and whether he kept track of the people he flew on Epstein’s planes.
“It wasn’t a priority,” Visoski said of keeping records of passengers, later saying that the private jets gave Epstein and other passengers a lot of freedom because they aren’t monitored.
“Flying private, security is much less,” he said. “You don’t have TSA, you don’t have X-rays, you come and go as you please, pretty much. Some airports even let you drive your car directly onto the ramp next to the aircraft and unload.”
Comey appeared to be trying to show that Maxwell was involved in scheduling some of the flights as well as some of the passengers.
Visoski was so close to Epstein that Epstein sold him a piece of land adjacent to the financier’s Stanley, New Mexico, ranch where the pilot built a lavish vacation home. He said he considered Maxwell someone who managed Epstein’s households, not as a girlfriend.
“I never witnessed them kiss or hold hands,” he said.
In opening arguments Monday, the first day of the trial, prosecutors said Epstein and Maxwell were “partners in crime,” targeting vulnerable minors they lured with promises of helping them realize their education or career goals through scholarships, financial assistance and connections in the fashion and entertainment worlds.
But defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim insisted that Maxwell is being used as a “stand-in” for Epstein, who died in 2019, leaving prosecutors without a culprit to blame for the elaborate sex-trafficking scheme he operated for nearly two decades in Palm Beach, New York, New Mexico and on his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Prosecutors portrayed Maxwell as Epstein’s right-hand lieutenant, but Sternheim suggested that she, too, fell into Epstein’s web. She described Epstein as a charming “21st-century James Bond” who had “many positive traits” and gave portions of his fortune to worthy causes.
“This case is about three things: memory, manipulation and money,” Sternheim told the jury. “These are memories from over a quarter of a century ago, and these are women who were manipulated by their desire for a jackpot of money.”
Testimony was to continue Tuesday afternoon.
Story by Julie K. Brown and Ben Wieder of The Miami Herald. BDN writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.