Palm Beach County sheriff opens criminal investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s work release
By SKYLER SWISHER
SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has opened a criminal investigation into how his deputies handled wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein’s work release about a decade ago, an agency spokeswoman said Thursday.
The sheriff launched an internal investigation on Friday and then broadened it to a criminal probe on Tuesday, spokeswoman Teri Barbera said.
She offered no additional details, other than sharing a statement that Bradshaw wants to “hold those accountable for any failures and ensure that it won’t happen again.”
Bradshaw, who was sheriff when Epstein was at the jail, has been under mounting pressure to agree to an outside, independent investigation of how the agency handled the matter. The four-term sheriff was first elected in 2004, and he has indicated he will run for re-election next year.
State Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, sent a letter Monday to Gov. Ron DeSantis asking him to order a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into Epstein’s work-release agreement.
DeSantis told reporters Thursday he is reviewing the letter. Bradshaw’s stance has been that an internal probe is sufficient.
In response to the sheriff’s criminal investigation, Book’s office released a statement reiterating her desire for an outside investigation. “We know mistakes occurred. Just as then-Governor Rick Scott called for an independent look at law enforcement failings post-Parkland, we need one here,” the statement read.
Epstein spent 13 months in the county stockade during 2008-09 as part of a once-secret plea deal that ended a federal sex abuse investigation involving at least 40 teenage girls. The arrangement was widely criticized as being too lenient, and Epstein now faces new federal charges in New York.
About 3½ months into his sentence, Epstein was allowed to spend up to 12 hours a day, six days a week working out of a downtown West Palm Beach office.
Lawyer Bradley Edwards, who is representing more than a dozen Epstein accusers, said last week Epstein was able to continue to have “improper sexual contact” with women while in the work-release program. He said he was not aware of any of the visitors being minors.
Epstein’s lawyers have not responded to a message seeking comment about the allegations.
Public records released by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office raise red flags about the level of supervision Epstein received
Although he was supposed to work only in his office, Epstein, 66, visited his home at least nine times during his work release, according to deputy logs. During one visit, a deputy stood outside his home for more than two hours while Epstein was inside unsupervised.
Deputies wrote they provided “low profile security.” One deputy wrote Epstein was “very happy with the service” he was being provided.