TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to take over the investigation related to the Jeffrey Epstein matter following a letter from Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.
The governor sent a letter to the FDLE saying, “I am requesting that FDLE assume the criminal investigation regarding Jeffrey Epstein.” “Also, I am requesting that FDLE initiate a preliminary inquiry into misconduct and allegations that go beyond the reported concerns with Jeffrey Epstein’s work release.”
Sheriff Bradshaw requested the help from the Governor, saying in part, “…I am formally requesting that FDLE assume the existing criminal investigation…” he continued, “I believe the public interest would be best served by an FDLE-led investigation examining every aspect of the Epstein case, from court sentencing to incarceration.”
Tuesday, Governor DeSantis issued an Executive Assignment in the case from Palm Beach County to the State Attorney.
The Governor also asked the FDLE to start a preliminary inquiry into other irregularities surrounding the prior state investigation and 2008 plea agreement.
In that agreement, Epstein was convicted of two state charges of soliciting prostitution and sentenced to 18 months in jail, and had to register as a sex offender. However, according to the Palm Beach Sheriff’s office, he did not register as a sex offender until after he was released from custody and only served 13 months of his sentence.
In addition, while serving those 13 months, he was allowed to spend most days at his West Palm Beach office and was allowed to visit his Palm Beach mansion, despite restrictions on home visits.
In July, Sheriff Bradshaw opened criminal and internal affairs investigations into his 13-month stay at the Palm Beach County jail.
Democratic State Senator Lauren Book from Plantation is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. She had been calling for a state investigation for 2 weeks. “I am thrilled that we’ll have independent investigation into the work release program and entire really what happened with the serial sex predator Jeffrey Epstein,” she said.
She’s pleased the FDLE will be taking a close look at the entire case, including the work release he was allowed. “He was driven in a limo, picked up, taken to his office, allowed to go home 9 times, hours alone and have cell door unlocked and that’s just what we know today,” Sen. Book said.
More than a decade after he secretly struck that plea deal with federal prosecutors in Florida, he was indicted again on federal charges.
Federal prosecutors in New York reopened the probe after investigative reporting by The Miami Herald stirred outrage over the plea bargain.
New York prosecutors charged him with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking. Prosecutors accuse him of operating a sex trafficking ring in which he both paid underage girls to have sex with him and paid some of them to recruit other victims at his New York mansion and in Palm Beach.
Epstein’s lawyers said he has not had any illicit contact with underage girls since serving his sentence in Florida. They said the current charges are improper because the government is reneging on the deal not to prosecute him.
U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned after coming under fire for overseeing that deal when he was U.S. attorney in Miami.
Epstein, who pleaded not guilty to the sex trafficking charges, remains in jail after a federal judge denied him bail.