U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta defended his handling of Jeffrey Epstein’s plea deal when he was the top federal prosecutor in southern Florida over a decade ago, and said his relationship with Trump is good, despite the renewed scrutiny since Epstein’s arrest over the weekend on fresh charges out of New York.
The 2007 non-prosecution agreement allowed the wealthy money manager to dodge federal charges for having sex with minors and to serve just 13 months in a state prison. Most of that time was spent on work release, so he could run his fund from his office.
Epstein wound up pleading guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor in the Florida case. When asked why that was the deal after Acosta said he didn’t view the women as prostitutes, he said the state grand jury in Florida set the tone at the time.
“This was a state case,” he said. “The state grand jury returned a prostitution charge against him. That was state grand jury. He was allowed to self surrender by the state attorney’s office. That would have resulted in no jail time. What the agreement did was say he had to go back and plea to a more serious state charge that required jail time and registration.”
He didn’t directly answer a question about whether Epstein got special treatment due to his wealth or influence. Instead, he said that all along the goal of his office was for Epstein to serve time behind bars and register as a sex offender, and that the victims needed to be allowed to seek restitution. Acosta said he wasn’t ordered by anyone at DOJ to cut a deal with Epstein.
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