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Epstein attorney had prior relationship with prosecutor who helped negotiate sweetheart deal

Mary Margaret Olohan, DCNF

An attorney for convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein had a prior relationship with a prosecutor who helped negotiate Epstein’s sweetheart deal, according to a person familiar with a full report on the investigation.

The Department of Justice released an executive summary of a report Thursday that found “poor judgement” but no “misconduct” in former U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta decision to scrap an investigation into Epstein’s child sex trafficking ring through a Sept. 24, 2007 non-prosecution agreement.

Epstein attorney Lilly Ann Sanchez had a short relationship with Matthew Menchel in 2003 while they both worked at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida, a source familiar with the full DOJ report told the New York Daily News that the report said.

Sanchez and Menchel dated for a few weeks before deciding the relationship was a bad idea, the Daily News reported.

The Daily Caller News Foundation filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the full report last week after the DOJ said in a press release that “the Privacy Act prohibits the Department from releasing the full report publicly.”

Epstein hired Sanchez around 2007 after she left the Southern District of Florida’s U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for private practice, the Daily News reported.

When the USAO began investigating Epstein and negotiated the sweetheart deal that closed an investigation into Epstein’s crimes, Menchel was chief of the criminal division, according to the Daily News, though Menchel left the USAO before the case had been fully resolved.

“That stinks to high heaven,” the source familiar with the report told the Daily News.

The DOJ report found that Menchel should have disclosed his relationship to both Acosta and ethics officials at the USAO, a disclosure which would have likely prompted officials to ask him to step back from the Epstein case, according to the Daily News.

Menchel, who declined to comment for this story, reportedly told DOJ investigators that his relationship with Sanchez did not affect how he handled the Epstein case. Sanchez did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.

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