PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has ordered an Internal Affairs 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. Sheriff Bradshaw is the one who approved and oversaw the work release arrangmenent then.
According to a news release from PBSO, the sheriff:
"...wants to determine if any actions taken by the deputies assigned to monitor Epstein during his work release program violated any agency rules and regulations, during the time he was on PBSO work release program."
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 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."
SPECIAL COVERAGE: The Jeffrey Epstein Case
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."
"Every right thinking person ought to be greatly offended that that could happen and did happen here in Palm Beach County," says Jack Scarola.
Jack Scarola is not holding back. He's been representing some of Jeffrey Epstein's underage victims when the first allegations surfaced in 2005.
WPTV asked PBSO if Epstein was allowed to go home during his work release, but they have not responded. According to Epstein's work release permit, a permit we got from PBSO, it only shows an address for his office, meaning it appears to be the only place he was allowed to go. We have asked PBSO to clarify.
Contact 5 is digging into these deputy logs because just this week, lawyer Brad Edwards, who represents some of Epstein's victims, claimed more than one woman was propositioned by Epstein while visiting him during work release hours at his office.
"Jeffrey Epstein has been a danger to this community for well over a decade, it should have been recognized previously. Appropriate safeguards should have been implemented. He never should have been on work release. He never should have gotten the kind of slap on the wrist jail sentence that he received. Those things remain unexplained today and they need to be thoroughly investigated and the need to be investigated by independent agencies," said Scarola.
But Sheriff Bradshaw says his office will be the ones investigating.
"When the allegations are allegations of impropriety against the sheriff himself, there is great reason for concern that this will not be an adequate investigation. There’s a strong motive to white wash anything and everything that wen ton here, there needs to be an independent investigation," says Scarola.
We've asked PBSO whether the sheriff would ask a third party to conduct the investigation. They told us quote, "Outside agencies do not investigate internal agency policies and procedures".
However, law enforcement sources tell us that PBSO can ask a sister agency to conduct an investigation on their behalf, especially if they felt like there could be a conflict of interest. But it's not unusual for agencies to conduct their own internal affair investigations.
- Details of Jeffrey Epstein's work release program emerge
- Was Epstein eligible for work release while jailed in Palm Beach County?
- Epstein paid PBSO $128,000 during incarceration
According to a statement released by PBSO on Friday:
"Sheriff Bradshaw takes these matters very seriously... All aspects of the matter will be fully investigated to ensure total transparency and accountability."
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 earlier this month, was denied bail at a court hearing on Thursday.
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.