One day after issuing a state criminal probe into the way top Palm Beach County officials handled the Jeffrey Epstein case, Governor Ron DeSantis spoke on camera to WPTV about his decision.
“The sheriff wrote me a letter because I think people were saying, ‘Well if you’re just investigating your own agency, maybe you need a different look,' ” DeSantis said. “I thought that made some sense.”
Attached to a news release from the Governor’s Office yesterday was a letter signed by Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, essentially inviting an independent investigation.
“For 48 years, I’ve dedicated my life to enforcing and upholding the law; as a patrol officer, detective, chief of police and, since 2004, the Sheriff of Palm Beach County,” Bradshaw wrote. “My job now, as it has always been, is to not only maintain public safety but also the public’s trust.”
For the past few weeks, Bradshaw had been overseeing a criminal investigation into Epstein work release, after records surfaced which showed the convicted sex offender may have had more privileges than others while out on work release and in PBSO’s custody.
But many, including State Senator Lauren Book and more than 4,000 petitioners, wondered if Sheriff Bradshaw was the right person to oversee the investigation since, ultimately, he has the final say in who gets work release.
Governor DeSantis told WPTV Sheriff Bradshaw’s letter was not the only reason to issue the state probe.
“I also thought, you know, there are irregularities that are probably just beyond that one issue of how that work release happened.”
#BREAKING: @GovRonDeSantis has asked FDLE to investigate @PBCountySheriff's handling of Jeffrey Epstein. This comes after receiving a letter from Sheriff @RicBradshaw. @WPTVContact5 has asked for a copy of that letter. https://t.co/PJuI0ypgQF @WPTV pic.twitter.com/OWREoFVTS8
— Merris Badcock (@MerrisBadcock) August 6, 2019
DeSantis has also ordered The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the agency overseeing the state investigation, to investigate the plea deal between Epstein and the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office. Epstein pleaded guilty to two prostitution charges and spent 13 months in jail, even though the Palm Beach Police Department had identified numerous minors who claimed Epstein sexually assaulted them.
DeSantis asked the State Attorney of the 19th Judicial Circuit on the Treasure Coast, Bruce Colton, to assist in the investigation.
“I didn’t know that it was coming, obviously,” Colton told WPTV Tuesday via phone. “But it is not unusual for the Governor’s Office to assign one State Attorney’s Office to another circuit to handle cases where they may be a conflict. We got those regularly; of course, not one of this magnitude.”
Colton will assist and help prosecute if FDLE comes up with any criminal charges as a result of their state investigation.
On Wednesday, DeSantis mentioned there could be a possible statute of limitation on filing charges since the case is more than a decade old.
“Of course, there are statute of limitations challenges, but I think there is maybe a pathway where some of the stuff can be identified, and, who knows, obviously, this is a long time ago.
“In terms of criminal case, you are talking over ten, 15 years in terms of the conduct. I think most people look at how that thing was disposed of and just are not happy with how it worked out.”
Barry Krischer was the Palm Beach County State Attorney who oversaw the controversial plea deal Epstein received. Krischer has not responded to WPTV’s request for a comment.