Jeffrey Epstein nonprosecution agreement stemmed from 'poor judgment,' DOJ ethics office says
Jeffrey Epstein in 2006. Photo from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office via Wikimedia Commons.
Former U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta showed "poor judgment" when he agreed to a plea deal for Jeffrey Epstein, but he did not engage in professional misconduct, according to the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility.
The review found no evidence the deal “was based on corruption or other impermissible considerations, such as Epstein’s wealth, status or associations,” according to an executive summary cited by the Washington Post, the Miami Herald and the Associated Press. The Justice Department announced the findings on Thursday in a press release and released an executive summary of OPR’s report.
Epstein was a wealthy money manager accused of sexually abusing minor girls at his Florida mansion between about 1999 and 2007. The plea deal agreed to drop federal charges against Epstein if he pleaded guilty to state charges. Epstein served 13 months in jail after pleading guilty in 2008 to two state charges of prostitution.
Acosta later became labor secretary in the Trump administration, a position from which he resigned amid controversy over the plea deal, CNBC reported last year.
According to the executive summary, the report found Acosta showed poor judgment by resolving the federal case through a nonprosecution agreement and by failing to make sure the state of Florida intended to notify victims about the state plea hearing.
Acosta “resolved the federal investigation before significant investigative steps were completed; and he agreed to several unusual and problematic terms in the NPA without the consideration required under the circumstances,” the executive summary said.
A lawyer for the victims, Paul Cassell, called the report “a cover-up,” according to the Washington Post. Cassell said he thought Epstein’s defense lawyers exerted undue influence over federal prosecutors, but they were not interviewed as part of the review.
Epstein hanged himself in jail in August 2019 after he was arrested on new federal charges of sex trafficking of minors.