Larry Visoski the ‘Lolita Express’ pilot who flew Jeffrey Epstein for more than 25 years was the first witness to give evidence in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial for sex trafficking.
Visoski’s testimony was given on the first day of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial on sex trafficking charges in Manhattan’s Federal Court House yesterday.
Maxwell herself listened intently throughout the first day of the trial, occasionally scribbling in a notebook and turning to look at her sister, as Assistant US Attorney Lara Pomerantz accused her of ‘heinous crimes’.
When the pilot was asked what he had made of Jeffrey Epstein’s relationship to Ghislaine Maxwell, he said it was ‘more personal than business, adding: ‘I wouldn’t characterize it as romantic.’
Visoski said he had been hired in 1991 and had flown Epstein around roughly ‘every four days. The pilot was so close to his boss that his daughter was married at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch.
The pilot captained Epstein’s Boeing 727 jet – known infamously as the ‘Lolita Express’ – just one of several private aircraft which prosecutors believe was used to shuttle underage girls between Epstein’s residences in New York and Palm Beach.
Visoski also described the interior of Epstein’s New York mansion in detail, as photos of the properties around the world where abuse is alleged to have taken place were displayed for the jury.
Epstein used his private jet – nicknamed the Lolita Express because of some of the underage passengers – to fly himself, high-powered friends, including Bill Clinton, and a parade of young women.
Last year, it emerged flight logs for all of Epstein’s private aircraft had been subpoenaed, sparking fears among celebrities like Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, and more who had partied with the pedophile.
The attorney general in the Virgin Islands where he owned a private island has reportedly demanded to see the logs.
Victims have since said Epstein had a large bed installed on the jet where guests had group sex with young girls, fulfilling their warped fantasies.
In 2015, victim Virginia Giuffre Roberts filed a lawsuit against the billionaire, claiming he recruited her as a ‘sex slave’ at the age of 15, sexually abusing her for years on his private jet as well as his various homes in New York, New Mexico, Florida, and the US Virgin Islands.
Court filings show that Epstein sold the Lolita Express weeks before his arrest on July 6 that year.
Visoski 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.
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 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.
However, 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.
While prosecutors portrayed Maxwell as Epstein’s right-hand lieutenant, 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 generously 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.”
“The defendant was Epstein’s closest associate and second in command. She was involved in every detail of Epstein’s life,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz. “During the 10 years that the defendant and Epstein committed these crimes together, the defendant was the lady of the house,” Pomerantz said
Maxwell demanded that employees of Epstein never speak about the girls and young women. “Employees were to see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing. There was a culture of silence,” she said. “That was by design, the defendant’s design, because behind closed doors, the defendant and Epstein were committing heinous crimes.”
Maxwell, dressed in a cream-colored turtleneck and dark slacks, appeared engaged in the proceedings as she whispered to her team of attorneys and, at one point, waved to her sister, Isabel, who was seated in the front row. At least four other courtrooms were set aside for the crowd overflow, and all of them were full.
“I can’t believe this day has come,” said Sarah Ransome, a South African woman who successfully sued Maxwell and Epstein in 2017 for trafficking her when she was 22. “I’m here to support the victims.”
Ransome, who is not testifying in the case, said she had a restless night on the eve of the trial and has been anxious about the proceeding ever since Maxwell was first arrested in July 2020 at a 156-acre estate in New Hampshire, where Maxwell had been living under the radar.
“Everyone’s been scratching their heads this last year,” Ransome said. “I’ve been very nervous.” Epstein was arrested in July 2019 on federal sex-trafficking charges but died in his cell a month after his arrest. Authorities ruled his death a suicide by hanging. Maxwell’s lawyers maintain that she is being tried in his place and that the evidence against her is thin.
There are no eyewitnesses and no documentation to support the allegations, Sternheim told jurors. “You are not here to judge whether Epstein committed crimes; you are here to determine whether the government can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Ghislaine Maxwell committed the crimes charged,’’ she said.