Gov. Ron DeSantis has assigned the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to take over the investigation into whether Palm Beach County authorities gave special treatment years ago to Jeffrey Epstein while he was being held on prostitution charges involving teen girls.
The governor acted Tuesday on a request from Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.
“Floridians expect and deserve a full and fair investigation,” said DeSantis said in a written statement. The probe, he added, would extend beyond the circumstances of Epstein’s work-release arrangement and “into other irregularities concerning the case’s disposition.”
DeSantis issued an executive order removing David Aronberg, the state attorney for Palm Beach County, from the case, appointing Bruce Colton, prosecutor for the 19th Judicial Circuit, which includes Fort Pierce and Vero Beach, to work with the FDLE on what the governor termed a “preliminary inquiry.”
DeSantis acted about one week after Lauren Book, a Democratic state senator from Broward County, urged him to put the FDLE on the case.
Epstein – a wealthy man who palled around with prominent figures including Donald Trump and Bill Clinton – received a 13-month sentence in a 2008 deal with federal prosecutors that allowed him to plead guilty to state charges of soliciting minors for prostitution. A work-release program allowed him to spend 12 hours per day outside his jail cell.
Last month, he was rearrested in New York on federal sex-trafficking charges involving girls.
Bradshaw sent the governor his request Monday. “I believe the public interest would be best served by an FDLE-led investigation examining every aspect of the Epstein case, from court sentencing to incarceration,” he wrote.