A few days ago, Chicago newspapers and TV stations exploded with the news that billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was again facing prosecution. The 66-year-old hedge fund manager has been accused by a federal prosecutor of sex trafficking and conspiracy.
If convicted, Epstein faces a possible sentence of 45 years in a federal prison.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that a decade ago Epstein was prosecuted on related charges in Florida. At that time, Epstein, his defense attorney and prosecutors reached a deal that spared him a long prison sentence. He served 13 months in a county jail with work release privileges on charges of soliciting and procuring a person under 18 for prostitution.
The prosecutor in that Miami case was Alexander Acosta, who is now Secretary of Labor. Acosta has defended the agreement as appropriate.
The new charges have generated outsized media attention because Epstein has been in social circles with high-profile figures such as President Donald Trump, former president Bill Clinton, attorney Alan Derschowitz, Britain’s Prince Andrews and others.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of New York has said that the agreement reached with Acosta was binding only on federal prosecutors in Florida, not on officials in New York.
Prosecutors now seek not only what would amount to a life sentence for Epstein, but the forfeiture of a three-story, 21,000-square-foot townhouse near New York City’s Central Park.
Though the agreement reached in Florida has been challenged in federal court there, prosecutors have filed papers contending that the arrangement is valid and should stand.
”The past cannot be undone,” prosecutors wrote in the filing, adding that “the parties have not disputed that Epstein complied with its provisions.”
Those in Chicago who face similarly serious allegations should decline to speak to media and investigators until they discussed their legal options with a criminal defense attorney experienced in Cook County, state and federal court systems.