This week, Attorney Joel DeFabio appeared in court with his client Miguel Arcangel Hernandez to enter a guilty plea to federal prostitution charges. The plea comes weeks after DeFabio had filed a motion to the court asking prosecutors to consider giving his client the same favorable considerations financier Jeffrey Epstein received in his infamous 2008 case. While the plea now means that the motion does not have to be considered by the judge, Attorney DeFabio told reporters that he will continue to pursue a lighter sentence for his client.
"Mr. Hernandez never contested that he ran an escort service. However, he will be contesting the severe penalty the government will be seeking," DeFabio told the Sun Sentinel. "The recommended sentencing range does not adequately take into account the true nature of his activities and, most importantly, the disparity or discriminatory enforcement of these laws. Bottom line: It's not right that a billionaire gets a get-out-of-jail-free card and Miguel Hernandez is looking at a minimum of seven or so years in federal prison."
Hernandez stood accused of operating several prostitution businesses out of Fort Lauderdale hotels. Federal prosecutors are seeking a maximum of nine years in prison for the offenses, but Attorney DeFabio has asserted that escort services are a "fact of life" in Florida and driving force for tourism for the state.
Motion for "Sweetheart Deal"
In March, DeFabio had filed a motion asking the court to reconsider the charges against Hernandez due to the fact that federal prosecutors in the state had allowed other offenders with similar crimes to escape their charges with minimum penalty. DeFabio, in particular, cited the notorious case of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who pleaded guilty to soliciting sex from minors, yet only served 13 months in prison. Epstein was well-connected and white, and DeFabio claimed Hernandez's harsher potential sentence was a result of institutional discrimination.
Prosecutors had claimed that Hernandez and Epstein's cases were not similar enough to draw a direct comparison. Hernandez is now facing a recommended seven months and three years to nine years in prison when he is called to sentencing in July, but a final sentence will be decided by a judge.
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