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PBSO sheriff orders criminal investigation in agency's handling of Epstein work release

Posted at 5:41 PM, Jul 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-26 12:58:35-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has ordered a criminal investigation into his agency's handling of the Jeffrey Epstein case, while the Palm Beach billionaire and registered sex offender was on a work release program more than a decade ago.

This is in addition to an internal investigation into deputies that spokesperson Teri Barbera announced last week.

Barbera confirmed to Contact 5 PBSO is conducting both the criminal and internal investigation.

Contact 5 learned of the criminal investigation after numerous public records requests were denied late Thursday evening, citing an active criminal investigation. The requests were sent in before the active investigation. A spokesperson for the Florida First Amendment Foundation, a non-profit entity that fights for the public's right to government records, confirmed they are researching the matter and seeking clarification from the Attorney General's office.

Law enforcement sources tell Contact 5 that it is common for agencies to investigate themselves both criminally and internally. However, PBSO could ask another agency to look into the matter if they felt like there was a conflict of interest.

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw both approved and oversaw Epstein's work release benefits.

Between 2008 and 2009, Epstein, who became 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.

RELATED: Jeffrey Epstein paid Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office $128,000 during incarceration for prostitution charges

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 us 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 criminal invesitgation and public record exemptions come the same day a Florida lawmaker reportedly received threats after asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to launch a state investigation into the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office's handling of the Jeffrey Epstein case more than a decade ago.

A spokesperson for State Sen. Lauren Book, a Democrat who represents parts of Broward County, told WPTV on Thursday that Book has also received calls to cease and desist her efforts.

The Miami Herald is reporting that Book has reached out to Capitol police in Washington, D.C. about the threats.

In a statement to WPTV on Thursday, Book's spokesperson said:

"Senator Book is focused ensuring accountability and transparency in getting to the bottom of how Epstein was able to ENJOY – not SERVE – his time while in PBSO custody."

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