Former New York Times financial journalist Landon Thomas Jr., who once penned favorable coverage of accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, allegedly solicited a sizeable charity donation from him in 2017, a report says.
According to NPR, Thomas confessed details of his relationship with Epstein to Times editors last summer, including that he asked the disgraced investor to donate $30,000 to a Harlem cultural center. Tax filings for 2017 show Gratitude America, a non-profit controlled by Epstein, made a donation to the center. Thomas reportedly spilled the beans regarding his relationship with Epstein after interviewing the businessman about reports he was secretly advising Tesla CEO Elon Musk, a rumor the billionaire electric car company found denies.
After revealing his friendship with Epstein and the donation to his then-editor, David Enrich, he was ordered to cease all contact with the convicted pedophile. According to the Daily Beast, Enrich was “shocked” by what Thomas had told him.
“It was made clear to Landon that he was never to have any professional contact with Epstein whatsoever,” one source told the Daily Beast. “He wasn’t to call him or speak to him or use him as a source. This was a flagrant breach of NYT ethical guidelines and editors were horrified.”
Thomas reportedly left the Times in early 2019 was “pushed out” by Ellen Pollock, the newspaper’s leading business editor, according to the Daily Beast.
“We wish we had of gotten rid of him sooner. He should have been fired on the spot,” a source told the news outlet.
On Thursday, the Times confirmed in a statement that Thomas no longer works at the newspaper.
“Landon Thomas Jr. is no longer on staff at the Times. Soliciting a donation to a personal charity is a clear violation of the policy that governs Times journalists’s relationships with their sources, and as soon as editors became aware of it, they took action,” said a spokesperson.
The revelation is one of the many bombshells to emerge since Epstein’s sudden suicide in his Manhattan prison cell on August 10th. New York City’s chief medical examiner determined last Friday that Epstein died from hanging himself, disputing conspiracy theories that he was murdered in his jail cell because he had knowledge of sexual misdeeds by powerful people.
The 66-year-old financier faced charges of sex trafficking minor girls and potentially could have named high-profile people who had sex with the girls. He was accused of abusing dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005.
Epstein previously was on suicide watch after he was found semiconscious in his cell with marks on his neck on July 23rd. Former cellmate Nicholas Tartaglione was cleared of any wrongdoing for that incident. Epstein was removed from suicide watch after about a week.
Epstein’s attorneys MartinWeinberg, Reid Weingarten and Michael Miller, said in a statement obtained by CNBC they were, “not satisfied with the conclusions of the medical examiner.”
“The defense team fully intends to conduct its own independent and complete investigation into the circumstances and cause of Mr. Epstein’s death including if necessary legal action to view the pivotal videos — if they exist as they should — of the area proximate to Mr. Epstein’s cell during the time period leading to his death,” the attorneys said.
“No one should die in jail,” they added. “And no one, not Mr. Epstein who was presumed innocent and had violated no prison disciplinary rule, and not anyone should be imprisoned under the harsh, even medieval conditions at the MCC where Mr. Epstein spent his final hours. His safety was the responsibility of the MCC. It is indisputable that the authorities violated their own protocols.”
Attorney General William Barr said he was “appalled that Epstein died while in federal custody. He directed the FBI and Department of Justice to investigate “serious irregularities” at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan.
“Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Barr said in a statement.
The Justice Department already reassigned the warden at that jail, and two other employees were put on administrative leave.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.