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Jeffrey Epstein's disregard for environmental protections showed his disrespect for the law, Virgin Islands says

(CNN) The primary allegations in the US. Virgin Islands' lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein's estate accuse him of carrying out an expansive sex trafficking operation that targeted underage girls and young women brought to his private islands.

But buried in the lawsuit filed on Wednesday is a different type of accusation -- the late Epstein as environmental villain.

The lawsuit filed by US Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George against his estate says that Epstein and others potentially damaged the delicate environment with illegal construction projects and brushed aside fines and other efforts to curb his behavior.

These alleged violations pale in comparison to the sexual abuse behavior that make up the main allegations of the lawsuit. Still, they provide further evidence of how Epstein flouted the legal system and used his money and power to avoid repercussions, according to officials.

"The Epstein Enterprise's violation of the construction and environmental laws was part of a pattern of behavior in flouting the laws of the Virgin Islands and holding itself above the law," the lawsuit says.

A building on Little St. James Island, owned by Jefferey Epstein and part of his estate.

The environmental accusations relate to Epstein's ownership of Little St. James island, which he purchased in 1998 and built up into a secluded enclave, as well as his purchase of neighboring Great St. James island in 2016 via a shell corporation. The two residences and properties are collectively valued at $86 million, according to a petition filed by Epstein's estate.

Both islands are "environmentally sensitive locations, with native coral and wildlife protected by federal and territorial law and enforcement authorities," according to the lawsuit. Christmas Cove, just off the western coast of Great St. James, is a popular snorkeling spot for its warm waters, coral reefs and sea turtles and is protected by the government.

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources, known as the DPNR, generally regulates and monitors construction in this area to look after the Virgin Islands' natural resources.

During Epstein's ownership of the islands, the "DPNR repeatedly issued citations and assessed thousands of dollars in fines for violations of the Virgin Islands construction code and environmental protection laws," the lawsuit says. Those were "significant" penalties for the agency and to the average resident, the lawsuit says.

But Epstein, with his multimillion dollar wealth, was not your average resident. The fines had little effect in curbing or stopping his enterprise's unlawful conduct or conforming to the law, the lawsuit says.

The illegal construction activity caused potential damage to the natural resources around the islands, the lawsuit says. "The Virgin Islands has incurred and will incur significant expenses to remove the illegal construction or remediate its effects on the area's natural resources," the lawsuit says.

An American flag flies on Little St. James Island on July 10, 2019.

The exact potential environmental damage is not yet known, the lawsuit says.

Epstein and his facilitators tried to keep DPNR investigators from conducting routine site visits to inspect "unpermitted and potentially damaging construction activity" on Great St. James, the lawsuit says. Epstein Enterprise said those visits were "invasions" of his right to privacy in his home -- which he defined as the entire island, the lawsuit says.

Similarly, in July 2018, he allegedly refused to allow investigators with the Virgin Islands Department of Justice to enter Little St. James island beyond its dock. The dock, he said, was his "front door," according to the lawsuit.

And even now, Epstein's enterprise continues to try to prevent or limit DPNR authorities from conducting random inspections on the islands, the lawsuit says.

Co-executors of Epstein's estate responded to the lawsuit in a statement on Wednesday.

"The Estate is being administered in accordance with the laws of the US Virgin Islands and under the supervision of the Superior Court of the US Virgin Islands," the statement said. "The Co-Executors will not otherwise comment on this or any other pending litigation."