Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta is facing renewed backlash over striking a “sweetheart” plea deal for billionare Jeffrey Epstein in 2008 during his time as the United States Attorney in the Southern District of Florida. Epstein is now facing a 45-year maximum sentence for child sex-trafficking from Manhattan federal prosecutors.
“I don’t know how he can survive this,” Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst said of Acosta after the contents of the federal indictment on Epstein were released.
Acosta let Epstein off with a 13-month sentence in county jail with work-release privileges in 2008. His charges were reduced to two prostitution charges in state court.
Acosta agreed to keep Epstein’s plea deal secret from the victims, which was ruled illegal in 2017 by a federal judge in violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.
The Miami Herald published a sweeping tell-all in November 2018 detailing how Epstein escaped charges in Miami despite evidence of child-sex trafficking and 80 women claiming to be molested or sexually abused by Epstein between 2001 and 2006. (RELATED: Alex Acosta’s Prosecution Of Sex Trafficking)
Acosta made a deal with Washington, D.C. attorney Jay Lefkowitz, his former colleague, at a breakfast meeting in October 2007, according to the Miami Herald. The deal closed an FBI probe into whether there were more victims, granted immunity to “any potential co-conspirators,” kept the deal from the victims in violation of federal law, and gave Epstein a lenient sentence in state court.
“How in the world, do you, the U.S. attorney, engage in a negotiation with a criminal defendant, basically allowing that criminal defendant to write up the agreement?” Bradley Edwards, a former state prosecutor who represents victims of Epstein, told the Miami Herald.
At the time, federal prosecutors in Miami had identified 36 underage victims, but they were not present at Epstein’s sentencing and most of them heard of Epstein’s sentencing from the news.
A former Miami-Dade police sergeant told the Miami Herald that the FBI had enough evidence to put Epstein away for a long time, but were overruled by Acosta.
At his confirmation hearing for labor secretary, Acosta was questioned on his decision to not prosecute Epstein federally, saying, “At the end of the day, based on the evidence, professionals within a prosecutor’s office decided that a plea that guarantees someone goes to jail, that guarantees he register [as a sex offender] generally and guarantees other outcomes, is a good thing.”
California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein opposed Acosta for labor secretary, and said at his confirmation hearing: “His handling of a case involving sex trafficking of underage girls when he was a U.S. attorney suggests he won’t put the interests of workers and everyday people ahead of the powerful and well-connected.’’
After the Miami Herald published the new information about Acosta’s decision to strike a plea deal, Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio said, “There’s probably more to it than what you’ve seen,” Rubio said. “That man should have been in jail for a long time.”
Back in February, Republican Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse launched an investigation into the Department of Justice’s handling of the case against Jeffrey Epstein.
The new charges against Epstein from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan focus on accusations that Epstein sexually assaulted girls at his Upper East Side home. Epstein will be charged with one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors and one count of sex trafficking of minors.
According to the new indictment, Epstein “enticed and recruited, and caused to be enticed and recruited, minor girls to visit him.”
“Moreover, and in order to maintain and increase his supply of victims, Epstein also paid certain of his victims to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused by Epstein,” the indictment says. “In this way, Epstein created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit.”
The girls were initially allured to perform massages, “which would be performed nude or partially nude, would become increasingly sexual in nature, and would typically include one or more sex acts.”
Acosta is now facing renewed pushback upon the release of the serious charges against Epstein.
Alex Acosta is Trump’s Secretary of Labor. He gave a child molester a sweetheart deal—and we’ve known this for a while. Why Democratic leadership hasn’t given Acosta more than a gentle shove is beyond me. They have another chance now with Epstein’s arrest. https://t.co/7DUQIs3r9F
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) July 7, 2019
Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested for child sex trafficking
Remember, a judge ruled in February that Alex Acosta, Trump’s Labor Secretary, BROKE THE LAW to give Epstein a sweetheart deal in 2007
How is Acosta still a member of Trump’s cabinet?
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) July 7, 2019
1. How has Alex Acosta continued to keep his job? 2. Why have Democrats not initiated impeachment proceedings against him?3. Why have Bar Association’s not disbarred him for his outrageous and illegal behavior as an officer of the court? https://t.co/ZROhGIcov4
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) July 6, 2019
Alex Acosta gave Jeffrey Epstein a sweetheart non-prosecution deal that ALSO immunized Epstein’s unnamed co-conspirators.
I’ve done and seen countless plea, cooperation and non-pros deals. And I’ve never even heard of immunizing a defendant’s unnamed co-conspirators. What’s up?
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) July 7, 2019
In a press conference Monday, William Sweeney, Assistant Director-In-Charge of the FBI’s New York Office, said “I have the privilege to represent and stand among many who make it our mission to put predators behind bars where they belong, regardless of the predator’s power, wealth, or perceived connections.”