Acosta defends role in Epstein plea deal
Embattled Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta defended himself Wednesday against charges that he mishandled a sex trafficking case involving billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, refused to apologize to the accused perv’s victims and pointed the finger at state prosecutors.
Acosta said that as the US Attorney in Florida more than a decade ago he decided to offer Epstein a sweetheart no-prosecution deal on federal charges because state prosecutors were supposedly ready to let him walk free.
“The district attorney of Palm Beach county recommended a single charge and that charge resulted in no jail time at all. No registration as a sexual offender and no restitution to the victims,” Acosta said during a news conference at the Department of Labor that multiple reports said had been ordered by President Trump, who had defended his Cabinet official the day before.
“So, simply put, the Palm Beach state attorney’s office was willing to let Epstein walk free, no jail time, nothing,” he continued.
“Prosecutors in my former office found this to be completely unacceptable and they became involved.”
He said they arranged the no-prosecution deal so that Epstein could plead guilty to state charges because the feds didn’t want to “roll the dice and bring a federal indictment.”
Asked if he owed Epstein’s victims an apology, Acosta declined to respond directly.
He also said that he believed he had the full confidence of Trump, and he repeated that he was happy that Epstein had been charged.
“I am pleased that the New York prosecution has gone forward. This is a very, very good thing,” he said.
The deal has come under fresh scrutiny after a Miami Herald investigation shed new light on it, spurring federal prosecutors in New York this week to file new sex trafficking charges against Epstein.
The federal 2007 non-prosecution agreement in Florida allowed Epstein to reach a plea deal in 2008 on a lesser prostitution offense and serve 13 months in a county jail, with leave during the day.
He also had to register as a sex offender, but a judge earlier this year ruled the deal was illegal.
On Monday, the US attorney in Manhattan said it was not bound by the plea deal and accused Epstein of luring dozens of girls, some as young as 14, and coercing them into sex acts.
Epstein remains in jail while he awaits his bond hearing scheduled for Monday morning.
This story originally appeared on NYPost.com.
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