11:57 GMT30 November 2020
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    Scandalous financier Jeffrey Epstein entered an infamous “sweetheart” plea deal back in 2008 when he admitted his guilt in procuring a minor for prostitution and another sex offence. He served only 13 months for his crimes in the end. In August 2019, he died in a prison cell while awaiting trial on new sex trafficking charges.

    Federal Bureau of Investigation agents were planning to arrest disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein back in May 2007, several months before he had entered a plea deal, but were denied the opportunity, according to a report from the Department of Justice, obtained by NBC News.

    According to the 347-page document, which cites a conversation between two prosecutors, the agents wanted to make an arrest while Epstein was judging a beauty pageant in the Virgin Islands. They became “extremely upset” and “disappointed” when this didn't happen. NBC News doesn’t specify why the arrest didn't take place in the end.

    The cited DoJ report expands on a previously released summary of investigation into Epstein and his circle of close friends which are said to have enabled his abuse of minors. On Thursday, DoJ and FBI officials met with nearly 30 women who claim to have been victims of Jeffrey Epstein in order to share details about the ongoing investigation into his alleged sex offences.

    During the summer, the FBI said that they have been building up cases against Epstein’s associates, maintaining that the Queen's son Prince Andrew was in contact or had met with “at least six” of them.

    One of the key reported findings mentioned in the report relates to former Trump Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. It was Acosta, who oversaw Epstein’s case while he was still a federal prosecutor in Florida and who arranged Epstein’s lenient plea deal in relation to charges of sexually abusing underage girls back in 2008.

    This agreement, often dubbed a “sweetheart deal”, left Epstein convicted of only two crimes in relation to child procurement for prostitution and soliciting a prostitute despite an extensive investigation by Palm Beach Police and, subsequently, FBI agents into the potential abuse of dozens of girls.

    In 2008, Epstein was sentenced to 18 months in prison but eventually was locked up for only 13. The programme of work release also allowed him to leave the jail almost every day.  

    The DoJ concluded on 12 November that Acosta exercised “poor judgment” when arranging the deal with the sex offender, but did not engage in any wrongdoing or misconduct.

    Epstein died in a prison cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial in relation to new charges brought against him of sex-trafficking and conspiracy to traffic minors. His death was judged to be suicide by medical experts.

    As the investigation into his potential associates - including ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell - continues, dozens of women are suing his estate, worth many hundreds of millions, for compensation.

    Department of Justice, FBI, Alexander Acosta, Prince Andrew, Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein, Virgin Islands, United States
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