dailymail.co.uk | 14 Nov 2020
- Lilly Ann Sanchez was a member of Epstein’s defense team in 2008
- Epstein had faced a potential federal indictment and life imprisonment for sexually abusing dozens of girls
- Sanchez helped secure the ‘slap on the wrist’ plea deal with the Southern District of Florida’s US Attorney’s Office for the pedophile to serve just 13 months
- Sanchez had previously been in a relationship with Matthew Menchel, one of the Attorney’s Office’s prosecutors who worked on the plea deal, a source revealed
- The link between the two came to light in the review by the Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) finalized this week
- Review concluded the probe into the office’s handling of Epstein’s case
- It found Menchel should have disclosed his relationship with Sanchez
- The review also said prosecutors simply exercised ‘poor judgement’ in granting the plea deal
A defense attorney for Jeffrey Epstein had previously dated one of the top prosecutors who helped secure the pedophile his 13-month sweetheart deal, it has been revealed.
Lilly Ann Sanchez was a member of Epstein’s defense team in 2008 when he was facing a potential federal indictment and life imprisonment for sexually abusing dozens of girls between 1999 and 2007.
Sanchez helped secure a deal with the Southern District of Florida’s US Attorney’s Office for Epstein to plead guilty to a lesser felony prostitution charge, register as a sex offender and serve just 13 months in a county jail where he could come and go during the day.
It has now emerged that Sanchez had previously been in a relationship with Matthew Menchel, one of the Attorney’s Office’s prosecutors who worked on the plea deal.
The link between the two came to light in the nearly 300-page review by the Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) finalized this week which concluded the Attorney’s Office simply exercised ‘poor judgement’ in reaching the slap on the wrist deal with the pedophile.
The OPR had launched a probe into the actions of the Florida prosecutors several months back.
The full review has not been released, only an executive summary, with the Justice Department citing privacy laws protecting the victims involved.
A source familiar with the review told the New York Daily News the full report reveals Menchel and Sanchez dated for a few weeks back in 2003 before breaking off the relationship because they felt it wasn’t a good idea.
At the time, they were both working at the Southern District of Florida’s U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Sanchez later left the office to work in private practice and became part of Epstein’s defense team in 2007 as he was under investigation for the sexual abuse of underage girls.
When the Attorney’s Office began investigating Epstein, Menchel was the chief of its criminal division and worked on the plea deal for the pedophile.
The report says Menchel had left the office before the case into Epstein was resolved.
Menchel told Justice Department investigators during the probe that his relationship with Sanchez had no impact on his handling of the case, the report says.
However the review found that the prosecutor should have disclosed the relationship to then US Attorney Alex Acosta and ethics officials and that, if he had, he would have likely been taken off the case.
The review has faced a backlash after it cleared Acosta, Donald Trump’s former labor secretary, and his team of prosecutors of misconduct over the handling of the case, instead ruling that the attorney showed ‘poor judgement’ in granting Epstein the deal.
‘While OPR did not find that Department attorneys engaged in professional misconduct, OPR concluded that the victims were not treated with the forthrightness and sensitivity expected by the Department.
‘OPR also concluded that former U.S. Attorney Acosta exercised poor judgment by deciding to resolve the federal investigation through the non-prosecution agreement and when he failed to make certain that the state of Florida intended to and would notify victims identified through the federal investigation about the state plea hearing,’ the office said in a statement.
The office said the probe found no evidence that Acosta was swayed by ‘impermissible considerations, such as Epstein’s wealth, status, or associations’.
Senator Ben Sasse released a statement slamming the findings Thursday.
‘Letting a well-connected billionaire get away with child rape and international sex trafficking isn’t ‘poor judgment– it is a disgusting failure. Americans ought to be enraged,’ he said.
‘Jeffrey Epstein should be rotting behind bars today, but the Justice Department failed Epstein’s victims at every turn.’
Epstein first came under investigation in 2005 after police in Palm Beach received reports he had sexually abused and trafficked underage girls in his mansion there.
Following an investigation he struck the plea deal in 2008 which has been widely criticized.
The deal also protected three co-conspirators from prosecution in Palm Beach, and it was kept secret from his victims for a year.
Epstein was found hanging in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan last August while awaiting trial on new sex trafficking charges.
He had pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing girls as young as 14 and young women in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.
His death was ruled a suicide but his attorneys and some family members claim he was murdered to stop him from sharing what he knows about other high profile, powerful people.
His alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell is now awaiting her sex trafficking trial in summer 2021.