NEW YORK, Nov 30 —  Ghislaine Maxwell was “number two” in the hierarchy of Jeffrey Epstein’s employees, a former longtime pilot for the deceased financier testified today at Maxwell’s sex-abuse trial in Manhattan.

Pilot Lawrence Visoski, who is testifying for the government, recalled how Maxwell would often contact him to schedule flights for Epstein.

Prosecutors have charged Maxwell, who was also a onetime intimate partner of Epstein’s, with recruiting and grooming four underage girls to give Epstein erotic massages, describing them as a “ruse” for sex abuse.

“Ms. Maxwell was number two. Mr. Epstein was a big number one,” Visoski told jurors. “She was the one that pretty much handled most of the finance, my expenses, spending in the office.”

Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of sex trafficking and other crimes, including two perjury charges that will be tried at a later date. She faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Lawyers for Maxwell have said that the British socialite was being scapegoated for crimes Epstein committed. Epstein died in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-abuse charges.

Earlier today, US District Judge Alison Nathan said she had excused one juror from the case because his spouse had surprised him with a planned trip around the Christmas holiday.

As a result, 12 jurors and five alternates, instead of six, will continue hearing testimony in the expected six-week trial, which began on Monday.

Visoski’s testimony has provided the remaining jurors with a sense of the lifestyle Epstein and Maxwell lived between 1994 and 2004, the period in which prosecutors say Maxwell lured four underage girls for Epstein to abuse.

The pilot said he frequently shuttled Epstein and guests between Epstein’s properties in New York, Florida, New Mexico, Paris and Caribbean islands.

In her opening statement on Monday, Assistant US Attorney Lara Pomerantz said prosecutors would present flight logs that included the names of Maxwell and some of the alleged victims.

Maxwell’s defense attorney, Bobbi Sternheim, yesterday said there was nothing inherently wrong with having private jets.

The jet-setting lifestyle contrasts with Maxwell’s confinement since her July 2020 arrest at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, including her complaints about raw sewage permeating her cell and being served moldy food. — Reuters