So this bit of “crime and justice” news was floated by the Miami Herald today, and I think it’s important enough to talk about.
Let’s start with the name, Jeffrey Epstein. You’ve probably heard it before.
Epstein is the wealthy philanderer accused of improper activities with underaged girls.
And by “improper,” we’re talking sex trafficking of minor girls.
FBI and court records show that he would host “sex parties” on his private jets, and at his homes in Manhattan, the Caribbean, and New Mexico.
He’s also a friend of Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, two men equally known for their own adulterous activities.
According to the Miami Herald story, Alexander Acosta, the top federal prosecutor in Miami, met one October 2007 morning for breakfast with an old colleague, attorney Jay Lefkowitz, in Washington, D.C.
Instead of meeting at the prosecutor’s Miami headquarters, the two men — both with professional roots in the prestigious Washington law firm of Kirkland & Ellis — convened at the Marriott in West Palm Beach, about 70 miles away. For Lefkowitz, 44, a U.S. special envoy to North Korea and corporate lawyer, the meeting was critical.
His client, Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, 54, was accused of assembling a large, cult-like network of underage girls — with the help of young female recruiters — to coerce into having sex acts behind the walls of his opulent waterfront mansion as often as three times a day, the Town of Palm Beach police found.
With the charges against him, contained in a 53-page indictment, Epstein was looking at life in federal prison.
The old colleagues made a deal.
This deal was the proverbial sweetheart deal for Epstein. It was a plea agreement that would considerably blunt the punishment for his heinous activities, while simultaneously victimizing (again) the young girls who were trafficked and abused by Epstein and his wealthy pals.
Not only would Epstein serve just 13 months in the county jail, but the deal — called a non-prosecution agreement — essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein’s sex crimes, according to a Miami Herald examination of thousands of emails, court documents and FBI records.
In other words, if there were other big names involved in this underage sex ring, the FBI couldn’t investigate.
The pact required Epstein to plead guilty to two prostitution charges in state court. Epstein and four of his accomplices named in the agreement received immunity from all federal criminal charges. But even more unusual, the deal included wording that granted immunity to “any potential co-conspirators’’ who were also involved in Epstein’s crimes. These accomplices or participants were not identified in the agreement, leaving it open to interpretation whether it possibly referred to other influential people who were having sex with underage girls at Epstein’s various homes or on his plane.
Further, Acosta, the man entrusted with the duty to prosecute crimes for the state of Florida, went against federal law to make sure the deal was kept from the victims involved in the case (those young girls).Because of that, the agreement was sealed, to await a judge’s approval. That effectively kept the victims or their advocates from showing up at Epstein’s court date to protest.
Acosta allowed Epstein’s high-powered legal team to pretty much set the terms for the plea deal, killing a federal investigation into an international sex trafficking operation.
As a result, neither the victims — nor even the judge — would know how many girls Epstein allegedly sexually abused between 2001 and 2005, when his underage sex activities were first uncovered by police. Police referred the case to the FBI a year later, when they began to suspect that their investigation was being undermined by the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office.
“This was not a ‘he said, she said’ situation. This was 50-something ‘shes’ and one ‘he’ — and the ‘shes’ all basically told the same story,’’ said retired Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter, who supervised the police probe.
So what sort of agreement could Epstein possibly make that would clear him of such awful charges?
Apparently, it had to do with shenanigans in the market, and Epstein’s willingness to help investigators in that area.
The Herald learned that, as part of the plea deal, Epstein provided what the government called “valuable consideration” for unspecified information he supplied to federal investigators. While the documents obtained by the Herald don’t detail what the information was, Epstein’s sex crime case happened just as the country’s subprime mortgage market collapsed, ushering in the 2008 global financial crisis.
Records show that Epstein was a key federal witness in the criminal prosecution of two prominent executives with Bear Stearns, the global investment brokerage that failed in 2008, who were accused of corporate securities fraud. Epstein was one of the largest investors in the hedge fund managed by the executives, who were later acquitted. It is not known what role, if any, the case played in Epstein’s plea negotiations.
Important stuff, but these guys were making a deal with a sex trafficker of young girls. Shouldn’t the creep factor be off the charts? There are some things you just don’t negotiate on.
Nearly 80 women – all victims of Epstein’s abuses as girls – have been identified by the Herald.
They all also feel that the system that is supposed to protect them, failed them.
They’ve got a right to feel that way. What Epstein did was horrific.
“Jeffrey preyed on girls who were in a bad way, girls who were basically homeless. He went after girls who he thought no one would listen to and he was right,’’ said Courtney Wild, who was 14 when she met Epstein.
“The damage that happened in this case is unconscionable,” said Bradley Edwards, a former state prosecutor who represents some of Epstein’s victims. “How in the world, do you, the U.S. attorney, engage in a negotiation with a criminal defendant, basically allowing that criminal defendant to write up the agreement?”
It’s a good question, but I don’t know that any answer will suffice, at this point.
So where is Alexander Acosta, the man who basically gave a serial child rapist a slap on the wrist, now?
That’s right. If the name sounds familiar, he’s serving in the Trump administration as secretary of the Labor Department, overseeing the nation’s labor laws – which would include human trafficking.
OH, and did I mention he’s also under consideration to take Jeff Sessions’ spot as attorney general?
Discuss among yourselves, while I puke up a kidney.