PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is stopping its inmate work release program until further notice in the wake of the controversial Jeffrey Epstein case.
PBSO said on Friday Sheriff Ric Bradshaw asked the Criminal Justice Commission of Palm Beach County, an independent commission, to review the agency's work release program and its policies.
The commission agreed, therefore the work release program will be stopped until the review is completed, PBSO said.
Sheriff Bradshaw recently ordered a criminal and internal investigation of his agency's handling of the Jeffrey Epstein case when the wealthy Palm Beach financier was on work release more than a decade ago.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: The Jeffrey Epstein Case
Between 2008 and 2009, Epstein, who was a convicted sex offender after pleading guilty to solicitation of a minor, was allowed to leave his cell in the Palm Beach County Jail six days a week, for 12 hours a day.
WPTV Contact 5 Investigators uncovered that Epstein was allowed to get picked up by his private driver, sometimes in a limo, and go to his office in downtown West Palm Beach, without a deputy following.
PBSO told WPTV not to "forget he had a GPS monitor," but Contact 5 uncovered logs showing issues with the GPS monitor.
Under the rules of the work release program, a deputy was assigned to "remain in the office with [Epstein] at all times." But deputy logs show Epstein was escorted to his home by deputies at least nine times.
In addition, deputies left him in his home unsupervised for up to three hours sometimes, despite the fact that agency rules stated Epstein "is not to leave his designated workplace for any reason, with the exception of returning to the PBSO stockade, or for emergency medical treatment."
The hedge fund manager's guilty plea was part of a 2008 non-prosecution deal which kept Epstein out of federal prison as part of a sex trafficking investigation.
Epstein, who's pleaded not guilty to new federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges filed last month, was denied bail at a court hearing.
Prosecutors said Epstein paid underage girls, some as young as 14 years old, hundreds of dollars in cash for massages, then molested them at his homes in Palm Beach and New York between 2002 and 2005.