Casey, Toomey react to plea-deal controversy surrounding Labor Secretary Acosta
Pennsylvania’s U.S. senators disagree whether Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta should resign amid growing criticism over a 2008 plea deal he negotiated with an accused sex offender who now faces new sex-trafficking charges.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, joined a growing chorus that includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York that is calling for Acosta’s resignation.
A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, said a federal investigation into whether Acosta mishandled the past case against billionaire Jeffrey Epstein while serving as U.S. Attorney for South Florida should continue.
“As U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta provided a child predator, Jeffrey Epstein, with a sweetheart plea deal that was kept secret from his numerous underage victims and their families,” Casey said in a statement. “As an appointed official, Secretary Acosta should resign for his part in perpetuating this cycle of abuse.”
Under the plea deal, Epstein pleaded guilty to lesser state charges and was sentenced to 13 months in jail on a release program that allowed him to work six days a week after being accused of sexually abusing dozens of young girls. He also was required to make payments to victims and register as a sex offender.
Epstein’s indictment Monday in the Southern District of New York and a raid on the financier’s mansion that police say uncovered a cache of child pornography is the driving force behind calls for Acosta’s resignation.
“The crimes Jeffrey Epstein has committed and has recently been accused of are heinous,” Toomey spokesman Bill Jaffee said in an email to the Tribune-Review. “The Department of Justice is reviewing whether federal prosecutors at the time mishandled Mr. Epstein’s case. Senator Toomey believes it’s important for that investigation to continue. If any misconduct is discovered, he believes those responsible should face severe consequences.”
Acosta has said the deal was the toughest he could wrangle in a difficult, complex case.
“With the evidence available more than a decade ago, federal prosecutors insisted that Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator,” Acosta said via Twitter Tuesday.
The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence.
— Secretary Acosta (@SecretaryAcosta) July 9, 2019
Nicole C. Brambila is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Nicole at 724-226-7704, [email protected] or via Twitter .