Judge Rules Plea Deal For "Orgy Island Billionaire" Broke Federal Law

In an opinion that was 11 years in the making, a federal judge has ruled in a lawsuit brought by victims of disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein - who infamously served 13 months in prison on state prostitution charges after scoring a plea deal with prosecutors led by now-Labor Secretary Alex Acosta - that Acosta and other attorneys with whom he worked at the US attorneys office of South Florida violated federal law when they sealed Epstein's plea deal, preventing any of his victims from challenging the deal, the Miami Herald reported.

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The lawsuit was originally brought in 2008 after Epstein started serving his term. He was released in 2009. But is only now being resolved following renewed interest in the case following a series of reports in the Herald about how the wealthy and well-connected Epstein - who allegedly ferried Bill Clinton and actor Kevin Spacey to his "Orgy Island" aboard his plane, which has been termed "the Lolita Express" - received such a lenient sentence for offenses that some said should have elicited federal sex trafficking charges.

Marra agreed, saying that while prosecutors had the right to resolve the case in any way they saw fit, they violated the law by hiding the agreement from Epstein’s victims. Marra’s decision capped 11 years of litigation — which included the release of a trove of emails showing how Acosta and other prosecutors worked with Epstein’s high profile lawyers to conceal the deal — and the scope of Epstein’s crimes — from both his victims and the public.

"Particularly problematic was the Government’s decision to conceal the existence of the [agreement] and mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility," Marra wrote. "When the Government gives information to victims, it cannot be misleading. While the Government spent untold hours negotiating the terms and implications of the [agreement] with Epstein’s attorneys, scant information was shared with victims.’"

Given that the determination was made in a civil court opinion, Acosta won't be facing any charges. But the ruling is certainly a black eye for his legacy as US attorney. But White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the administration would be "looking into" Acosta's role in the plea deal.

In the opinion, the judge determined that Epstein helped recruit underage girls "for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others".

The lawyer who brought the civil suit said he was relieved to read the opinion, and blasted the government attorneys for appearing to side with Epstein over his victims.

Brad Edwards, the Fort Lauderdale attorney who brought the case, said he was elated at the judge’s ruling, but admitted he is bitter that the case took 11 years to litigate, blaming federal prosecutors for needlessly dragging out the case when they could have remedied their error when it was brought to their attention in 2008.

"The Government aligned themselves with Epstein, working against his victims, for 11 years," Edwards said. "Yes, this is a huge victory, but to make his victims suffer for 11 years, this should not have happened. Instead of admitting what they did, and doing the right thing, they spent 11 years fighting these girls."

Still, Epstein will likely live out his life as a free man (unless new offenses are committed, or if other victims of his sex trafficking in different jurisdictions come forward. There's no statute of limitations on sex trafficking). The ruling comes after Senators on the Judiciary Committee asked that the DOJ open an investigation into the deal, which was offered at a time when Robert Mueller was running the FBI.