Watch CBS News

Palm Beach Sheriff's Office Launches Internal Investigation Into Deputies' Handling Of Jeffrey Epstein Work Release

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is going to be looking into some of its own over the handling of Jeffrey Epstein.

The PBSO confirmed that it is launching a criminal and an internal investigation into their own deputies over Epstein's work release detail.

The internal investigation was launched on July 19th and the criminal investigation was added four days later on July 23rd.

The wealthy Palm Beach businessman is in jail at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy.

He was arrested in New York on July 6.

Epstein pleaded not guilty.

From 2002 to 2005, Prosecutors say he paid hundreds of dollars to girls as young as 14 to have sex with him, some of whom he paid to recruit other victims.  A New York judge denied his request for bail saying he is a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Epstein's due back in court on the federal sex trafficking charges on July 31st where a trial date may be set.  If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 45 years in prison.

In Florida, Epstein was convicted on one count of procuring a person under age 18 for prostitution and one count of solicitation of prostitution.

He served a 13-month sentence, registered as a sex offender and paid restitution to victims.

His plea deal helped him avoid more serious federal charges. But news reports of the deal sparked a public outcry, and federal prosecutors in New York charged him with sex trafficking involving underage victims.

The charges led to the resignation of President Donald Trump's labor secretary, Alex Acosta, who was Miami U.S. attorney when the deal was signed. Epstein has pleaded not guilty.

Earlier this week Plantation Democrat and Florida state senator Lauren Book requested Governor Ron DeSantis investigate the Epstein court deal that was struck eleven years ago in Palm Beach County.

At the time, Epstein avoided federal prosecution, was sentenced to 13 months in jail and was allowed work release after pleading guilty to sexually abusing young girls.

Under Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, Epstein was allowed to go to a private office and his Palm Beach home with little supervision over what he did and who he saw.

Book wrote a letter to Governor Ron Desantis urging him to direct the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the work release matter.

The Governor indicated Thursday he is inclined to look into the Epstein deal.

"If even ten percent of what they say is true, the deal is suspect and I'll look to see if the state can exercise oversight there," said Gov. DeSantis.

Senator Book's office sent CBS4 a response when asked about the new investigations.

"Senator Book respects and appreciates that Sheriff Bradshaw has recognized the need to begin a criminal investigation, but she believed that was exactly what PBSO was already doing: looking at what happened to see if someone broke the law or if a systemic failure occurred. Senator Book maintains her assertion that an independent body should and must come in to investigate, not just PBSO. 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."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.