MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Calls for an independent investigation into the work release deal given to wealthy Palm Beach businessman Jeffrey Epstein 11 years ago are being heard loudly.
Epstein got 13 months in the county jail after pleading guilty to soliciting a minor.
With that, he avoided federal charges.
Part of his deal included work release privileges where he was allowed to leave the jail and go to his West Palm office and his Palm Beach mansion with little supervision by deputies.
“There needs to be an independent agency that conducts this investigation, not the sheriff’s office,” said Jack Scarola, attorney for victims.
Attorney Jack Scarola represents several of Epstein’s accusers.
He agrees with State Senator Lauren Book who’s calling on the governor to launch an independent investigation.
All this while Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, who was sheriff back then, is conducting an internal affairs investigation and a criminal probe of his own officers involved at the time.
“The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office under the leadership of Sheriff Bradshaw has a long-established pattern of an inability to conduct a credible investigation into allegations of wrongdoing within the sheriff’s office,” said Scarola.
Of the Sheriff’s own investigation, Senator Book released a statement saying in part, “Senator Book maintains her assertion that an independent body should and must come in to investigate – not just PBSO.”
The governor is considering it.
“If even like 10% of the things about him are true then that whole agreement was obviously suspect and below what he should have faced, so I’ll look at it and see if the state can exercise some good oversight there,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday.
David Weinstein is a Former Federal Prosecutor who was not involved in the case. He believes appears plays a big role here. “If there was no impropriety, at the end of the day, an independent body finds there’s no impropriety people are less likely to question the results of an investigation,” he said.
He thinks an independent investigation can help avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest from the sheriff investigating his own agency.
“I think that they’re short-sighted to think that if they conduct this investigation internally and their conclusion is there was no impropriety that somebody isn’t going to say this is yet another cover-up in a long line of cover-ups,” he said.
Meanwhile, Epstein’s accusers are pleased the case has come to the national forefront and are glad that he’s under arrest again — this time, being held in lockup in New York on different charges.
“The world is a safer place with Jeffery Epstein behind bars and my clients feel significantly more comfortable as a result of that development,” said Scarola.