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Ex-Palm Beach state attorney: Acosta is 'completely wrong' about Epstein plea deal

In a blistering statement, the former state attorney for Palm Beach County, Florida, accused Labor Secretary Alex Acosta of not being truthful about the controversial 2008 plea deal he made with financier Jeffrey Epstein.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Acosta said that while working as a federal prosecutor in Florida, he had to intervene in the state's case to make sure Epstein, who was arrested on sex trafficking charges, served time in prison and had to register as a sex offender. Under the deal, Epstein was sentenced to 13 months in jail, and was allowed to work in his office six days a week. "There is a value to a short guilty plea because letting him walk — letting what the state attorney was ready to do go forward — would have been absolutely awful," Acosta said.

Barry E. Krischer, who served as the state attorney for Palm Beach County from 1993 to 2009, responded swiftly. "I can emphatically state that Mr. Acosta's recollection of this matter is completely wrong," he said in a statement. "Federal prosecutors do not take a back seat to state prosecutors. That's not how the system works in the real world."

Krischer said a grand jury returned a single count indictment of felony solicitation of prostitution against Epstein, and "subsequently, the U.S. Attorney's Office produced a 53-page indictment that was abandoned after secret negotiations between Mr. Epstein's lawyers and Mr. Acosta." Krischer's office knew nothing about their meetings, "and definitely had no part in the federal non-prosecution agreement and the unusual confidentiality arrangement that kept everything hidden from the victims."

If Acosta "was truly concerned with the state's case and he felt he had to rescue the matter, he would have moved forward with the 53-page indictment that his own office drafted," Krischer added. "Instead, Mr. Acosta brokered a secret plea deal that resulted in a non-prosecution agreement in violation of the Crime Victim's Rights Act."