DOJ: Ex-prosecutor exercised "poor judgment" in Epstein deal

An investigation by the Justice Department’s internal disciplinary office concluded that President Trump’s former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta did not commit “professional misconduct,” but did exercise “poor judgment” while serving as a top federal prosecutor in charge of overseeing the 2008 sexual abuse investigation of Jeffrey Epstein.

The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) reviewed a 2008 decision by Acosta, then serving as U.S. Attorney in Miami, to strike up a plea deal with Epstein which allowed him to avoid federal charges with a possible life sentence.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, chair of the Senate Judiciary’s subcommittee on oversight, sent a letter in December 2018 to OPR asking that they look into the plea deal, after a bombshell report by the Miami Herald stirred public outrage.

Instead, the wealthy investment manager pleaded guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting and procuring a person under age 18 for prostitution, and was sentenced to 18 months in jail, but ended up serving less than 13 months due to good time. The deal also required he reach financial settlements with dozens of his once-teenage victims and register as a sex offender.

However, that deal was never disclosed to Epstein’s victims. The report says this “reflected poorly on the Department as a whole, and is contradictory to the Department’s mission to minimize the frustration and confusion that victims of a crime endure.” While it was not a requirement for the attorney’s to inform those women under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), the move was widely criticized as a means to silence them, however the office said they found no evidence of that.

A summary of the report’s findings was first briefed to victims and their attorneys Thursday by the Justice Department. Although they concluded that Epstein’s victims “were not treated with the forthrightness and sensitivity expected by the Department,” they ultimately did not find that Acosta’s, “decision was based on corruption or other impermissible considerations, such as Epstein’s wealth, status, or associations.”