Governor Ron DeSantis has ordered Florida to take over a criminal probe into the terms of millionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s slap-on-the-wrist plea deal and work-release sentence in 2007.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will conduct a “preliminary inquiry into misconduct and allegations that go beyond the reported concerns with Jeffrey Epstein’s work release,” DeSantis wrote in a letter to the department on Tuesday, also tasking them with taking over the criminal probe into that work release.
Explaining that Palm Beach County law enforcement had handled the original investigation and fresh eyes were needed, DeSantis also assigned State Attorney Bruce Colton, whose Nineteenth Circuit does not include Epstein’s Palm Beach home, to the case.
The inquiry will attempt to answer questions about how Epstein was able to get away with sexually abusing what the FBI at the time claimed were at least 36 teenage girls and walk away with nothing more than a 13-month sentence that allowed him to leave the jail during the day. He was even allowed to fly his private plane to New York, Boston, and his private island without having to tell his probation officers what he was doing or who he was meeting, according to the Palm Beach Post.
It was Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw who begged DeSantis to hand the case to the state, insisting “the public interest would best be served by an FDLE-led investigation examining every aspect of the Epstein case, from court sentencing to incarceration.” Bradshaw pledged the “cooperation and participation” of Palm Beach law enforcement in the state investigation.
Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting underage prostitutes in 2007 and registered as a sex offender in exchange for immunity from federal charges for himself and his accomplices, in a non-prosecution deal that has been harshly criticized in light of the reopening of the investigation.