In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, center, sits with attorneys Martin Weinberg, left, and Marc Fernich during his arraignment in New York federal court, Monday, July 8, 2019. Epstein pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges. The 66-year-old is accused of creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

1 Justice Department, 2 views on sex charges against Epstein

July 08, 2019 - 10:46 pm

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — There is only one Justice Department, but two of its largest U.S. attorneys' offices came to vastly different conclusions about what to do with financier Jeffrey Epstein over allegations he sexually molested dozens of underage girls.

The Miami U.S. attorney's office approved an extraordinary agreement a decade ago in which Epstein pleaded guilty to lesser state charges rather than face much tougher federal prosecution.

But Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman announced the indictment Monday of Epstein on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges stemming from at least some of the same conduct covered by that agreement.

Epstein pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Defense attorneys say it's highly unusual for one federal prosecutor to pass on an indictment only to have another located elsewhere to determine otherwise.