Evan Vucci/ File via AP, New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File
- Newly revealed documents show that federal prosecutors under the guidance of US attorney Alex Acosta told the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office that Jeffrey Epstein was not eligible for work release.
- The Daily Mail reported that a December 2008 letter and other materials from then-US Attorney Alex Acosta's office arguing against Epstein's work release cited the timing of Epstein's registering as a sex offender and other administrative functions as the reason for the arrangement. Acosta's office ultimately says the decision was made by the Corrections Division of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's office.
- The work release part of the deal stipulated that Epstein left jail to work in his private office 12 hours a day, six days a week.
- A November 2018 Miami Herald report probed the secretive plea deal penned by Acosta that granted Epstein's lax sentencing guidelines even though the paper said local and federal investigators looking into Epstein's suspected trafficking of minor girls had enough evidence to put him away for life in 2007.
- The arrangement raised a bevy of new concerns when a lawyer representing some of the women who have accused Epstein of sexual abuse said in July 2019 that Epstein committed sexual abuse during his 13-month jail term.
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Newly revealed documents show that federal prosecutors told the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office that Jeffrey Epstein was not eligible for work release.
The Daily Mail reported that despite a December 2008 letter from then-US Attorney Alex Acosta's office that said Epstein technically had three felony convictions, which would disqualify him from work release, records show Epstein was released six days a week during the 13-month sentence he served in 2008 after pleading guilty to procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and felony solicitation of prostitution.
Acosta fostered the plea deal that would eventually be seemingly interpreted by the Corrections Division of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's office to allow Epstein to serve just 13 months from a private cell block at a county jail, instead of federal prison, and obtain work release, despite Acosta's office arguing against the release portion. The financier also pleaded guilty to just two prostitution charges, though the Daily Mail reports that because one of the charges Epstein plead guilty to was for recommitting an offense, he had three felony convictions.
"I understand Mr. Epstein would be ineligible for participation in the work release program if he committed three violations of F.S.S. 796 within the past five years," Assistant US Attorney Marie Villafana wrote in a letter sent on December 11, 2008, according to the Daily Mail.
Villafana also reportedly noted that he had created his work release company just days before he was sentenced and that his New York-based attorney doesn't seem to be an ideal choice to enforce the sheriff's office guidelines of a supervisor for Epstein's activity during his release.
She closed out by saying that decision was not for her office to make, and that she just wanted to pass along the information
The Daily Mail noted that the letter ends with Villafana saying the decision is up to the sheriff's office, as she just "wanted to make sure that you had a complete picture before you made that decision."
The work release part of the deal stipulated that Epstein left jail to work in his private office 12 hours a day, six days a week, and would then be returned to a private wing of the Palm Beach County jail, which has been described by the Palm Beach Post as being for "snitches or others who need protection from other inmates for various reasons, such as having a lot of money."
After Epstein's release and mounting investigation into the shocking allegations against him, it was unclear how the disgraced financier's entry into the work-release program was approved by the courts with no objections by the state.
A November 2018 Miami Herald report probed the deal that granted Epstein lax sentencing guidelines even though the paper said local and federal investigators looking into Epstein's suspected trafficking of minor girls had enough evidence to put him away for life in 2007.
PBSO spokeswoman Therese Barbera told local channel WPTV that the timing of Epstein's registering as a sex offender was what allowed for his release, which was also noted in the Daily Mail report.
"Sex offenders are not allowed to go on work release," Barbera said, echoing some findings of the Herald's 2018 report. "Epstein registered as a sex offender after he was released from jail," she told the Florida channel.
The arrangement raised a bevy of new concerns when a lawyer representing some of the women who have accused Epstein of sexual abuse said in July 2019 that Epstein committed sexual abuse during his release when he hosted underage female visitors at his private office.
Epstein was arrested on July 6, 2019, and plead not guilty to sex trafficking charges involving dozens of underage girls, allegations for which dated back to the early 2000s, the majority of which purportedly took place in his Florida and New York residences.
Epstein later died by suicide on August 10 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking and conspiracy charges, leaving the next steps for his victims seeking justice unclear.