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DOL's Acosta Under Fire Over Epstein Sex-Abuse Plea Deal

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Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. (Photo: Diego Radzinschi/ALM) Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. (Photo: Diego Radzinschi/ALM)

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is the subject of a request for a Justice Department inquiry, according to a news report in Friday’s Washington Examiner.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., called for the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General to investigate Acosta for corruption after a lengthy Miami Herald report described Acosta’s role in hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein’s plea deal tied to charges of sexual abuse that affected dozens of underage girls.

In 2007, Epstein was convicted on two counts of prostitution and spent 13 months in county jail. However, sources that spoke with the Miami Herald say he also was involved in sex trafficking and the abuse of dozens of girls and women.

At the time of the plea deal, Epstein also served as a federal witness in a case against two Bear Stearns executives charged with securities fraud.

Wasserman Schultz is reportedly concerned about emails that reveal Acosta, then Miami’s top federal prosecutor, and A. Marie Villafana, another federal prosecutor, agreed to certain demands raised by Epstein’s attorneys, such as limited publicity.

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Some 36 underage victims were cited in legal documents tied to the case, yet none of these girls and young women attended the June 30, 2008, sentencing of Epstein in Palm Beach County, according the Miami Herald story.

Also this week, the McClatchy news service said the focus on Acosta and his role in the sex-abuse scandal has led to his elimination this week as a possible nomination for attorney general by President Donald Trump.

A DOL spokesperson told the Examiner: “This matter has been publicly addressed previously, including during (Acosta’s Senate) confirmation hearings. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida has defended the actions in this case across three administrations.”

“At the end of the day, based on the evidence, professionals within a prosecutor’s office decided that a plea that guarantees someone goes to jail, that guarantees [Epstein] register generally [as a sexual predator] and guarantees other outcomes, is a good thing,” Acosta said during his Senate confirmation hearings as labor secretary in 2017.