A Florida sheriff launched an investigation Friday into whether his department properly monitored the wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein while he was serving a sentence for soliciting prostitution from underage girls, the AP reports. The inquiry will focus on whether deputies assigned to monitor Epstein in a work-release program violated any rules or regulations, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said in a statement. Under a 2008 plea deal, Epstein was allowed to spend most of his days at the office of his now-defunct Florida Science Foundation, which doled out research grants, rather than in the county jail. "All aspects of the matter will be fully investigated to ensure total accountability and transparency," Bradshaw said.
Epstein's plea deal, which helped him avoid more serious federal charges, involved a 13-month sentence. After a little more than three months in a Florida county jail, Epstein spent most of his days at his office, according to Palm Beach County sheriff's records released to the AP. Records show Epstein leaving jail earlier and returning to jail later than was allowed, and also show that he was escorted to his mansion rather than back to jail on at least eight occasions. Brad Edwards, a lawyer for several of Epstein's accusers, said this week he had been in contact with a woman who had "sexual contact" with Epstein in his office while he was still serving his sentence. One of the deputies who had been assigned to guard Epstein at his office for several days told the AP he did recall young women visiting, but couldn't say whether there was any inappropriate contact.
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