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FBI sought to arrest Jeffrey Epstein during beauty pageant, report

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation was denied the opportunity to arrest Jeffrey Epstein in 2007 while he was judging a beauty pageant in the US Virgin Islands, according to a US government report viewed by NBC News, a year before his 2008 plea deal with prosecutors. 

The Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility on Thursday released its executive summary of a report analyzing the handling of Epstein’s first federal investigation between 2006 and 2008. The full 347-page report, as NBC News reports,  detailed law enforcement’s plan to take Epstein into custody as early as May 2007.

The FBI agents working the case were “disappointed” when they learned the arrest wouldn’t be happening and a case supervisor was “extremely upset,” according to NBC News. The report details that the refusal dampened morale for Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Villafaña, who felt held back in pursuing the case despite mounting evidence and witness testimony against Epstein.

“Now I feel like there is a glass ceiling that prevents me from moving forward while evidence suggests that Epstein is continuing to engage in this criminal behavior,” NBC News reported Villafaña wrote in the report. 

The shadowy financier later cut a plea deal with Department of Justice prosecutors in 2008 that allowed him to avoid federal prosecution but required him to register as a sex offender and plead guilty to state charges of solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution. The deal saw that Epstein only served a 13-month sentence that allowed him to leave jail six days out of the week to work from his Palm Beach, Florida office. 

Former Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta was also found to have exercised “poor judgment” in the case, according to the executive summary, by pursuing a non-prosecution agreement that resulted in little jail time for Epstein, allowing him to continue his activities that prompted a later investigation that resulted in his 2019 arrest in New Jersey. The Trump administration appointee resigned from his cabinet post amid controversy surrounding his handling of the investigation. 

Epstein owned an island in the US territory called Little St. James – now referred to as “Pedophile Island” or “Orgy Island,” according to Business Insider’s Libertina Brandt – that’s now become a Caribbean tourist attraction thanks to its owner’s notoriety. Media reports and court documents allege that visitors to the island included lawyer Alan Dershowitz, former President Bill Clinton, and Marvin Minsky.

The US Virgin Islands was Epstein’s primary residence. He frequently flew back and forth between the territory and the US mainland using a fleet of private aircraft that included a Boeing 727 airliner-turned-private-jet and a Gulfstream G550 that is now for sale

Before he could be tried for the charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking, Epstein died while in federal custody in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center of an apparent suicide. He was denied access to bail due to his status as a flight risk and potential public safety risk by US District Judge Richard Berman.

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