Florida governor orders criminal investigation into handling of Jeffrey Epstein case

Florida governor orders criminal investigation into handling of Jeffrey Epstein case
© Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisSaudi officer ripped US support of Israel in tweet before naval base shooting: report The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - A crucial week on impeachment FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 AcostaThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by National Association of Manufacturers — Whistleblower complaint roils Washington On The Money: Senate confirms Scalia as Labor chief | Bill with B in wall funding advanced over Democrats' objections | Lawyers reach deal to delay enforcement of NY tax return subpoena Sanders calls Eugene Scalia's Labor Dept. confirmation 'obscene' 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.