Acosta explains why he didn't go after Epstein
President Trump called Epstein a “terrific guy” back in 2002, saying that “he’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”
Now, Trump is on the witness list in a Florida court battle over how federal prosecutors handled allegations that Epstein, 64, sexually abused more than 40 minor girls, most of them between the ages of 13 and 17. The lawsuit questions why Trump’s nominee for labor secretary, former Miami U.S. attorney Alexander Acosta, whose Senate confirmation hearing began Wednesday morning, cut a non-prosecution deal with Epstein a decade ago rather than pursuing a federal indictment that Acosta’s staff had advocated.
But Epstein’s unusually light punishment — he was facing up to a life sentence had he been convicted on federal charges — has raised questions about how Acosta handled the case.
Former Palm Beach police chief Michael Reiter, whose department conducted the initial investigation into Epstein’s behavior, said in a civil lawsuit deposition that Epstein got off easy.
“That wasn’t an appropriate resolution of this matter,” Reiter said, arguing that the charges leveled against Epstein were “very minor,” compared with what the facts called for. In a letter to parents of Epstein’s victims, Reiter said justice had not been served.
Prosecutors in Acosta’s Miami office who had joined the FBI in the investigation concluded, according to documents produced by the U.S. attorney’s office, that Epstein, working through several female assistants, “would recruit underage females to travel to his home in Palm Beach to engage in lewd conduct in exchange for money … Some went there as much as 100 times or more. Some of the women’s conduct was limited to performing a topless or nude massage while Mr. Epstein masturbated himself. For other women, the conduct escalated to full sexual intercourse.”
Federal prosecutors detailed their findings in an 82-page prosecution memo and a 53-page indictment, but Epstein was never indicted. In 2007, Acosta signed a non-prosecution deal in which he agreed not to pursue federal charges against Epstein or four women who the government said procured girls for him. In exchange, Epstein agreed to plead guilty to a solicitation charge in state court, accept a 13-month sentence, register as a sex offender and pay restitution to the victims identified in the federal investigation.
“This agreement will not be made part of any public record,” the deal between Epstein and Acosta says. The document was unsealed by a federal judge in a civil lawsuit in 2015.
During Wednesday’s confirmation hearing Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) pressed Acosta about the plea agreement reached with Epstein.
Acosta told the committee that the case started at the state level before the Department of Justice decided to get involved. He said the original charge debated would not have led to any jail time and that “based on the evidence,” prosecutors decided to go with a deal where Epstein would have to register as a sex offender and agree to a two-year prison sentence.
His testimony Wednesday reflected Acosta’s explanation of his decision in a “To whom it may concern” letter that he released to news organizations three years after the decision: “The bottom line is this: Mr. Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire, served time in jail and is now a registered sex offender. He has been required to pay his victims restitution, though restitution clearly cannot compensate for the crime.” Acosta wrote that the case against Epstein grew stronger over the years because more victims spoke out after Epstein was convicted.
In the 2011 letter explaining his decision in the Epstein case, Acosta said he backed off from pressing charges after “a year-long assault on the prosecution and the prosecutors” by “an army of legal superstars” who represented Epstein, including Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz; Kenneth Starr, who as independent counsel led the investigation that brought about President Bill Clinton’s impeachment; and some of the nation’s most prominent defense attorneys, such as Roy Black, Gerald Lefcourt and Jay Lefkowitz.
“The defense strategy was not limited to legal issues,” Acosta wrote. “Defense counsel investigated individual prosecutors and their families, looking for personal peccadilloes that may provide a basis for disqualification.”
Dershowitz said in an interview that no such effort to rattle the prosecutors ever took place. “That’s just dead wrong,” he said. “I would never participate in anything of that kind. Of course we investigated the witnesses but not Acosta’s deputies. That’s absurd.”
Acosta’s “intention was to indict, and he fought hard and tried to get the best deal he could,” Dershowitz said. “We outlawyered him.” Epstein did not return a call seeking comment.
Conchita Sarnoff, the author of “TrafficKing,” a book on the Epstein case, said in an interview that Acosta told her a few years after his decision not to prosecute that “he felt incapable of going up against those eight powerful attorneys. He felt his career was at stake.”
In his letter about the decision, Acosta, who has been dean of the law school at Florida International University since 2009, acknowledged that “some prosecutors felt that we should just go to trial, and at times I felt that frustration myself.” He also complained that Epstein “received highly unusual treatment while in jail,” including being allowed to serve much of his sentence in the county jail rather than a state prison, and being permitted to leave the jail six days a week to work at home before returning to jail to sleep. (He also got a massage by a woman 67 times.)
“The treatment that he received while in state custody undermined the purpose of a jail sentence,” Acosta said.
Dershowitz said Acosta “was very anxious to prosecute” Epstein, but “we persuaded them that they didn’t have enough evidence of interstate transportation” of the underage girls to warrant federal charges.
But Reiter, the former police chief, said the FBI had evidence “from flight logs or something” that an underage victim “was transported on an aircraft of Mr. Epstein.”
“Some may feel that the prosecution should have been tougher,” Acosta wrote. “Evidence that has come to light since 2007 may encourage that view.” But the prosecutor argued that his office’s investigation allowed state prosecutors to strengthen their charges against Epstein. And Acosta said that those who disagree with his decision “are not the ones who at the time reviewed the evidence available for trial and assessed the likelihood of success.”
The deal Acosta made with Epstein precluded any new federal prosecution based on offenses he may have committed between 2001 and 2007, but in Florida, Trump is on the witness list in a civil case in which two attorneys accuse federal prosecutors of having deceived Epstein’s victims by failing to inform them that they would not charge Epstein.
Although Trump and Bill Clinton flew on Epstein’s plane and visited his homes, neither president has been accused of taking part in the sexual misdeeds. But lawyers for Epstein’s victims say Trump nonetheless may have useful information. Trump banned Epstein from his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach “because Epstein sexually assaulted an underage girl at the club,” Bradley Edwards, an attorney who represents three of the young women, said in court documents.
Oh the irony!
Trump and Clinton are both among the dozens of names that appeared in a “black book” of Epstein’s phone contacts that his houseman, Alfredo Rodriguez, obtained. Rodriguez, who died in 2015, was convicted of obstruction of justice in 2010 after he tried to sell the book for $50,000 to lawyers representing Epstein’s victims. In the book, Rodriguez circled the names of contacts he said were involved in sexual misbehavior at Epstein’s properties. There were no circles around the names of Trump, Clinton or other boldfaced names such as former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, former British prime minister Tony Blair, and celebrities Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, David Frost and Jimmy Buffett.
Rodriguez spent 18 months in prison, five months longer than Epstein served in jail.
Here's a bit more information from 13/3/2018.
According to an 82-page prosecution memo produced by the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami a decade ago, Epstein, with help from several female assistants, “would recruit underage females to travel to his home in Palm Beach to engage in lewd conduct in exchange for money . . . Some went there as much as 100 times or more. Some of the women’s conduct was limited to performing a topless or nude massage while Mr. Epstein masturbated himself. For other women, the conduct escalated to full sexual intercourse.”
But that case was shut down by then-U.S. Attorney Acosta, who in 2007 signed a non-prosecution deal in which he agreed to halt federal action against Epstein in exchange for Epstein pleading guilty to the state charge. Epstein also was required to register as a sex offender and to pay restitution to victims identified in the federal investigation.
Twitter is abuzz with calls for Acosta to step down now that this information has hit the fan. So far I haven't seen any republicans calling for it. From what I've read in the past and since Epstein's arrest it sure looks like there was plenty of evidence to have put Epstein's butt in prison for much longer than the original 18 months he received. No other person would have been allowed to leave prison for 6 days a week to go to work or receive massages when his buttocks were actually in prison.
During the FBI's search of his home they found many photos of nude women and very young girls. Doesn't look like Epstein learned anything during his brief time in prison.