The prosecutors who ironed out the non-prosecution deal signed by Jeffrey Epstein in 2008 and the deputies who oversaw the pedophile’s incarceration may soon find themselves facing criminal charges.
Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida announced on Tuesday that he had ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to take over the investigation of how the Epstein case was handled by state employees.
‘I am requesting a preliminary inquiry into misconduct and allegations that go beyond the reported concerns with Jeffrey Epstein’s work release,’ wrote Governor DeSantis.
At the same time, he issued an Executive Order reassigning the matter from Palm Beach County State’s Attorney Office to the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida.
This move was suggested in some part by Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, who sent a formal request to the Governor on Tuesday stating that FDLE should ‘assume the existing criminal investigation.’
He closed out the request by writing: ‘I believe the public interest would be best be served by an FDLE-led investigation examining every aspect of the Epstein case, from court sentencing to incarceration.’
Bradshaw said that the internal investigation launched by the department last month would continue at the same time.
This comes after much public outcry, led locally by state senator and sexual abuse survivor Lauren Book.
‘The privileges that Epstein received in Palm Beach County were outside the scope of what anyone else would receive,’ she wrote in a letter to Governor DeSantis.
‘We need an independent body to identify whether this was an issue of individual failures or systemic failures. And if it was an individual failure, we need to hold those individuals accountable.’
In a post on last month, the Democrat wrote: ‘The allegations of serial sex predator Jeffrey Epstein assaulting young girls while serving work release are alarming, and if true, show yet another breakdown of the system’s dealings with this serial abuser.
‘I am in favor of an FDLE investigation into the PBSO handling of Epstein while on work release. We are calling for accountability on all fronts so things like this never happen again, and that means looking back at the entire system of law and order which failed his young victims.’
It was only after Book spoke out that Sheriff Bradshaw announced his plan to launch an internal investigation into what a PBCSO media advisory refers to as ‘the Jeffrey Epstein matter.’
The probe will to ‘determine if any actions taken by the deputies assigned to monitor Epstein during his work release program violated any agency rules and regulations.’
A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told DailyMail.com at the time however that no one from the PBCSO had contacted the office.
Book then wrote her open letter to Florida’s governor demanding action.
‘When an atrocity occurs in our state and there is a breakdown involving law enforcement, I believe it is appropriate for FDLE to step in and investigate,’ Book wrote in the letter to Governor DeSantis.
‘If Epstein was able to abuse young girls while under supervised work release, we need to understand very clearly when and now these egregious lapses and abuses occurred so they cannot be repeated.’
This probe comes after attorney Bradley Edwards said at a press conference on Tuesday that he had been contacted by at least one woman who informed him she had been summoned to Epstein’s office for a sexual encounter while he was in prison.
As part of his plea deal, Epstein was allowed to spend up to 12 hours a day working at the office from Monday through Saturday during his time in prison.
Deputies reportedly stood outside the building while Epstein was left unchaperoned inside, working for a business he founded during plea negotiations and shuttered as soon as he was released from prison.
Members of the PBCSO did keep a visitor log of those who visited Epstein at The Florida Science Foundation, but those records were discarded for reasons that are still unclear.
These claims had been made public long before this week.
Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown revealed this in an interview back in April with Alec Baldwin on his podcast Here’s the Thing.
She said one of the deputies assigned to monitor Epstein during his work release in West Palm Beach confirmed that the high-profile inmate was given free reign once inside his office.
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The deputies remained outside and did not enter the office, despite the steady stream of clients, friends and young women who would come to visit the newly-convicted sex offender.
‘I said, “did you ever pay attention to what he was doing in the office? He had girls in there,”‘ recalled Brown of her conversation with the deputy.
‘And he said, “No, that was not our job.”‘
There was a visitor’s log that all guests had to sign, according to Brown, but she was told the records had mysteriously disappeared when she requested them.
The PBCSO claims however that the records were disposed of in a completely legal manner as part of a standard purging of files.
Those deputies were also receiving overtime pay for their work explained Brown, with one deputy required to be outside the office six days a week, for 12 hours each day.
That financial burden was shouldered in some part by the Florida Science Foundation, a company that was run by Epstein.
In the months that Epstein was incarcerated, FSF made donations totaling $128,136 to the PBCSO.
Brown also noted in the interview that Epstein would not have been able to get his sweetheart plea deal if the case were tried today.
‘He was charged with solicitation of prostitution under the age of 18, there really isn’t any such thing as child prostitution,’ said Brown.
‘Back then that was on the books in Florida, but its no longer on the books.’
She then explained that Epstein and members of his camp stood by the decision not just because it spared him serious jail time and federal charges, but because it was their opinion ‘that these women were prostitutes.’
Brown said that she had never before seen a plea deal similar to the one Epstein was granted by state prosecutors.
‘Florida has some of the toughest ex-offender laws in the country, I mean they send these guys to state prison. Florida state prisons are viscous,’ explained Brown.
‘But he managed to work it out so that he would go to the Palm Beach County Jail, where he had his own private wing.’