Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisDemocrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms California dreaming did not become reality for Republicans Florida landlord requiring proof of vaccinations from tenants MORE (R) has ordered a state criminal probe into the handling of the investigation into registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to the Miami Herald.
The investigation will focus on the actions of the Palm Beach Sheriff’s office and the former Palm Beach state attorney.
Epstein in 2008 pleaded guilty to solicitation of a minor but, under a plea deal with then-U.S. attorney and now-former U.S. Labor Secretary Alex AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaOn The Money: Trump slams relief bill, calls on Congress to increase stimulus money | Biden faces new critical deadlines after relief package | Labor rule allows restaurants to require broader tip pooling Labor rule allows restaurants to require broader tip pooling Federal litigator files complaint alleging Labor secretary abused his authority MORE, served only 13 months and was allowed to spend 12 hours a day outside of jail — privileges Sheriff Ric Bradshaw is under increased scrutiny for granting.
Bradshaw approved the work-release deal despite the objections of Maria Villafaña, a prosecutor on Acosta’s staff who handled the case, according to the Miami Herald. Bradshaw ordered an internal affairs investigation into the work-release deal last month.
DeSantis on Tuesday also ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to take over the investigation, in response to a request from Bradshaw’s office.
Bradshaw, in a letter provided by DeSantis's office Tuesday, said that while his office would move forward with its internal probe, he also believes "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."
“Following my review of Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw’s letter, I am requesting the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to take over his criminal investigation pertaining to the Jeffrey Epstein matter,” DeSantis said in a statement, adding that the agency will “conduct a preliminary inquiry into matters beyond the work release and into other irregularities concerning the case’s disposition."
"I have also re-assigned the case to the State Attorney for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit,” he said.
Epstein was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in New York last month. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.
DeSantis’s order follows a petition from state Sen. Lauren Book (D), a sexual assault survivor, calling for the FDLE to handle the matter, writing that Bradshaw had an innate conflict of interest, according to the Herald.