FBI agents wanted to arrest Jeffrey Epstein at a Virgin Islands beauty pageant he was judging in 2007 but were stopped because the prosecutor who later cut him a sweetheart deal was ‘out of town’
- A federal prosecutor had built a case against Epstein that accused him of sexually abusing dozens of young girls, a new Justice Department report details
- Marie Villafaña, the assistant federal prosecutor, wanted to indict the financier then because he was ‘probably continuing to commit the behavior’
- The FBI planned to arrest Epstein immediately after he was indicted, at a Virgin Islands beauty pageant where he is a judge
- But Villafaña’s request to indict Epstein was refused because her boss Alex Acosta, then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, was ‘out of town at a conference’ at the time
- The report determined Acosta, later Trump’s Labor Secretary, had exhibited ‘poor judgment’ but no professional misconduct in the case
- Acosta ultimately declined to prosecute Epstein
- Under a 2008 plea deal with Florida state prosecutors, Epstein was able spend just 13 months in prison and avoid federal charges
The FBI wanted to arrest Jeffrey Epstein at a beauty pageant that he was judging in 2007, but the U.S. Attorney was out of town and wasn’t ready to have him indicted, according to a report released this week by the Department of Justice.
Alex Acosta, then the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and later the secretary of Trump’s Labor Department, was ‘out of town at a conference’ so the assistant U.S. Attorney who was itching to indict Epstein and have him arrested was told ‘no.’
The FBI’s supervisory special agent was ‘extremely upset’ about the missed opportunity, Fox News reported.
In May 2007, Marie Villafaña, who was the lead prosecutor on the case, filed a prosecution memo stating she wanted Epstein to face up to 210 months, or 17 and a half years, in prison for charges that he sexually abused young girls and women.
Jeffrey Epstein was judging a beauty pageant in the Virgin Islands in 2007 when the FBI wanted him arrested, according to a Justice Department report on the 2008 plea deal that Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyers reached with federal prosecutors
The Justice Department report concluded that Alex Acosta (pictured), then-U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and later Trump’s Labor Secretary, exhibited ‘poor judgment’ for striking that deal
According to the report, Villafaña ‘intended to file charges by May 15, 2007 and the FBI planned to arrest Epstein immediately thereafter.’ But she hadn’t received had authorization to indict Epstein, Fox News reported.
On May 14 Villafaña told others via email that Epstein was set to fly to New Jersey from the Virgin Islands, and asked if she could file charges the next day.
She was told ‘no,’ according to the report. Her boss Acosta wanted ‘to take his time making sure he is comfortable before proceeding.’
The case had been pending for a long time, and one prosecutor wanted to know what Villafaña’s ‘rush’ was at that point, according to Fox News.
Villafaña ‘could not seem to get [her supervisors] to understand the seriousness of Epstein’s behavior and the fact that he was probably continuing to commit the behavior, and that there was a need to move with necessary speed,’ she said in the report.
Unbeknownst to his alleged victims, in 2008 Epstein’s lawyers would make a deal with Acosta under which the financier would face only state charges and the federal investigation would be resolved.
Assistant U.S. Prosecutor Marie Villafaña (pictured), who led the case on Epstein at the time, wanted the financier indicted and arrested in May 2007, but Acosta wanted ‘to take his time making sure he is comfortable before proceeding.’
Acosta (right) quit as Labor Secretary in July 2019 when increased scrutiny on the 2008 plea deal with Epstein became a distraction for the Trump Administration
That plea deal became the subject of the 350-page Justice Department report released this week.
The report concluded that Acosta had exhibited ‘poor judgment’ but that his behavior did not constitute professional misconduct.
In a statement to Fox News, Acosta said the report ‘fully debunks’ allegations that he had cut a sweetheart deal for Epstein.
He said the report confirmed his decision to go ahead with the plea deal, which led to a jail sentence and registration as a sex offender for Esptein.
Epstein was ultimately sentenced to two years behind bars, and he served only 13 months, with much of that time spent on six-day-a-week work release.
Acosta quit as Labor Secretary in July 2019 when increased scrutiny on the 11-year-old deal with Epstein became a distraction for the Trump Administration.
Brad Edwards, an attorney for several of Epstein’s victims, called the Justice Department report a ‘disappointing sidestep of the issue. He said the Justice Department ‘appears to have backed in to a desired result that is difficult to reconcile with the facts.’
‘We are left still wondering why Jeffrey Epstein got the sweetheart deal he did and who exactly made the decision to transform a lengthy sex trafficking indictment into a non-prosecution agreement,’ Edwards said.
David Boies, a lawyer who represented Virginia Giuffre and other Epstein accusers, told Fox News the report was ‘disappointing.’
‘Letting a politically connected billionaire get away with child rape and international sex trafficking is not merely ‘poor judgment.’ It is wrong, and people should be held to account,’ said Boies.
Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska (pictured) repeatedly questioned the 2008 plea deal that Epstein’s lawyers struck with federal prosecutors. He called that deal a ‘disgusting failure’ after a Justice Department report said the then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta had exhibited ‘poor judgment’
Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who has questioned Justice Department officials about the plea deal repeatedly, also condemned the report.
‘Letting a well-connected billionaire get away with child rape and international sex trafficking isn’t ‘poor judgment’ – it is a disgusting failure. Americans ought to be enraged,’ Sasse said. ‘Jeffrey Epstein should be rotting behind bars today, but the Justice Department failed Epstein’s victims at every turn.’
Epstein, 66, was found hanging in his cell in August 2019, in an apparent suicide in a Manhattan federal detention facility.
That was just over a month after he was arrested on federal charges for the sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York.
David Boies (right), shown here with his client Virginia Giuffre (left), an Epstein accuser, called a Justice Department report into Epstein’s 2008 plea deal with the Southern District of Florida ‘disappointing’