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Mueller didn’t strike plea deal with Jeffrey Epstein

By AMANDA SEITZJuly 9, 2019

CLAIM: The FBI, under Robert Mueller, let billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein off with a weak plea deal after dozens of young girls accused him of sexual assault.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Former Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta _ not the FBI or Mueller _ signed a 2008 non-prosecution deal with Epstein, while he was under investigation for sexually abusing at least 40 girls in Florida and New York.

THE FACTS: Tweets and Facebook posts wrongly fault Mueller, the director of the FBI at the time, for a 2008 secret plea agreement that saved Epstein from a 53-page indictment that carried hefty criminal penalties.

The false claims emerged after Epstein was arrested Saturday for new sex trafficking and conspiracy charges that accuse him of sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of girls from 2002 to 2005 in his homes. The 66-year-old Epstein pleaded not guilty Monday during his first court hearing.

Mueller served as the FBI director from 2001 to 2013, when the federal agency investigated Epstein. Most recently, Mueller acted as special counsel for the Russia investigation into the Trump campaign.

The FBI, however, is not responsible for prosecuting crimes and did not execute the controversial plea deal with Epstein more than a decade ago.

Court records list only two U.S. government representatives _ Acosta and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Villafana _ as parties in the plea agreement Epstein entered. Acosta is secretary of labor in the Trump administration.

That deal allowed Epstein to avert a possible life sentence and plead guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting and procuring a person under age 18 for prostitution. Epstein was sentenced to 13 months in jail, required to reach financial settlements with dozens of young victims, and register as a sex offender.

The agreement was later made public in a civil case.

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Associated Press writer Curt Anderson contributed to this report.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536

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