Justice Dept. opens probe into billionaire’s sex plea deal

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The Justice Department has opened an investigation into federal prosecutors’ handling of a plea deal in which a billionaire financier avoided potentially severe penalties for sexually abusing teenage girls in favor of a relatively light state conviction.

The department’s Office of Professional Responsibility wrote in a letter Wednesday to U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, that it would examine whether there was professional misconduct in the highly publicized case of Jeffrey Epstein.

Epstein reached a non-prosecution deal in 2008 with then-Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta’s office to secretly end the federal sex abuse probe involving at least 40 teenage girls. He instead pleaded guilty to state charges, did 13 months in jail, paid settlements to victims and is a registered sex offender.

Acosta is now President Donald Trump’s labor secretary.

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