Federal prosecutors from Atlanta will take over a Florida victims’ rights case involving a wealthy financier accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta confirmed Wednesday that it has been assigned the case involving victims of Jeffrey Epstein, 66, after the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami recused itself.
“When the U.S. attorney’s offices are recused because of conflicts or the appearance of conflict, it’s very common for other offices to take over the investigation and that’s what happened in this case,” Byung J. “BJay” Pak, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said Wednesday.
A Florida federal judge ruled last month that former Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta’s prosecutors violated the victims’ rights by secretly reaching a nonprosecution agreement with Epstein. Under the agreement, Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges, spent 13 months in jail, paid settlements to victims and became a registered sex offender.
The judge gave the Justice Department a Friday deadline to seek a settlement with the victims’ attorneys.
Acosta, now the secretary of labor, has said the deal was appropriate.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra of the Southern District of Florida ruled Feb. 28 that prosecutors broke federal law in their handling of the case against Epstein, who ran a global child sex ring between 1999 and 2007.
Epstein could have faced life in prison with a federal sex trafficking conviction. His alleged accomplices were never charged.
Marra found that because Acosta didn’t tell victims about the deal, he violated their rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. The government argued that the law only required prosecutors to answer victims’ questions, not to update them on every case development, but the court disagreed.
This article includes reporting by the Daily Business Review.