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Defense lawyer for Epstein dated top prosecutor who helped secure his short prison sentence in sweetheart deal

A DEFENSE attorney for pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein dated a top prosecutor who helped the monster get a 13 month "sweetheart" deal, it has emerged.

Lilly Ann Sanchez was a member of Epstein's defense team in 2008, when Epstein had faced a potential federal indictment and life imprisonment for sexually abusing dozens of girls.

Sanchez helped secure a plea deal with the Southern District of Florida's US Attorney's Office for the pedophile to serve just 13 months.

But it was revealed on Saturday that Sanchez had previously dated Matthew Menchel from the Florida Attorney's Office, who had worked on the Epstein plea deal, according to a source.

The relationship between the pair came to light in a 300-page review by the Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which launched a probe into the actions of the Florida prosecutors several months back.

The report concluded the Attorney's Office simply exercised 'poor judgement' in reaching the slap on the wrist deal with Epstein.

The full review has not been released, only an executive summary, with the Justice Department citing privacy laws protecting the victims involved.

The source told the New York Daily News that the full report revealed Sanchez and Mendel has dated for a few weeks in 2003 while they both worked at the Southern District of Florida's U.S. Attorney's Office.

But the report states the pair called time on their relationship due to a conflict of interest.

At the time, they were both working at the Southern District of Florida's US 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.  

But the OPR review found Menchel should have disclosed his previous relationship with Sanchez to US Attorney General Alex Acosta – which would have meant he would have 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.

The OPR ruled that the attorney showed 'poor judgement' in granting Epstein the deal.   

The office said in a statement: "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 judgement 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."      

In conclusion, the OPR probe found no evidence that Acosta was swayed by "impermissible considerations, such as Epstein's wealth, status, or associations". 

Last 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. 

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