Barry Krischer a former state’s attorney for Palm Beach County hit back at US Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, following a press conference on Wednesday where Acosta placed blame on the State’s Attorney’s office for the plea deal cut for financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Krischer in a statement said the secretary’s “recollection of this matter is completely wrong.”
Epstein was being investigated under suspicion of sex trafficking minors. Federal investigators were preparing a 53-page indictment, but federal charges were never filed.
Acosta, then the US Attorney in Miami, negotiated a 2008 non-prosecution deal, The Miami Herald reported, and Epstein instead pleaded guilty to two state counts of soliciting prostitution and was required to register as a sex offender.
His sentence was 13 months in a private wing of a county jail, which he was allowed to leave six days a week on a work arrangement, per the plea deal.
“We believe that we proceeded appropriately,” Acosta said during the press conference, defending the deal, adding that it was the Palm Beach State Attorney’s office that “was willing to let Epstein walk free. No jail time. Nothing.”
Krischer responded in a statement, saying it was the US Attorney’s Office who produced the indictment on Epstein, which “was abandoned after secret negotiations between Mr. Epstein’s lawyers and Mr. Acosta,” and the State Attorney’s office “was not party to those meetings or negotiations.”
“No matter how my office resolved the state charges, the US Attorney’s office always had the ability to file its own federal charges,” Krischer said in the statement. “Federal prosecutors do not take a back seat to state prosecutors. That’s not how the system works in the real world.”
Krischer noted the “unusual” nature of the confidential arrangement that withheld information of the plea deal from the crime victims, which a federal judge in West Palm Beach ruled violates the Crime Victim’s Rights Act in 2019, The Times reported.
Krischer said if Acosta was “truly concerned with the State’s case and felt he had to rescue the matter, he would have moved forward with the 53-page indictment that his own office drafted.”
“Mr. Acosta should not be allowed to rewrite history,” Krischer said in the statement.
Acosta said he believed it was too risky to take Epstein to trial with the evidence that the US Attorney’s office had.
“I think it’s important to stand up for the prosecutors of my former office and make clear that what they were trying to do was help these victims,” Acosta said during the press conference. “They should not be portrayed as individuals that just didn’t care.”
According to a 2018 report from The Miami Herald, Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter and Detective Joseph Recarey tod The Herald that they felt “pressured by [Krischer] to downgrade the case to a misdemeanor or drop it altogether.”
Krischer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.