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As Epstein Awaits Trial in New York, a New Move by Florida

Governor has ordered state criminal investigation into why Epstein's 2008 plea deal was so cushy
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2019 6:58 AM CDT
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference on June 21, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla.   (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP)

(Newser) Jeffrey Epstein was alleged to have sexually abused dozens of teen girls, but in the end he received a deal in Florida that let him plead guilty on lower charges involving just one of those girls. Now the state's governor has ordered a state criminal investigation into why and how that 2008 plea deal came to be, as the girls accusing Epstein were never even told about it, and as Epstein was allowed to spend most of his 13-month sentence outside of prison and in an office. NBC News reports there was already an investigation in the works spurred by Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, but that Bradshaw had recently asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to step in and have the probe transferred to the Florida Division of Law Enforcement state agency "given the recent questions that have been raised."

DeSantis agreed. "Floridians expect and deserve a full and fair investigation," he said in a statement. Per the Tampa Bay Times, Bradshaw himself has been criticized for his role in the Epstein case, accused of offering the financier lax work-release allowances that were out of the norm for a case of that severity. A federal indictment of Epstein was put to rest under then-US Attorney Alex Acosta, who was the one who approved the lesser charges for Epstein. Acosta resigned his post last month as the Trump administration's labor secretary after revitalized scrutiny of the plea deal. Epstein, 66, is now in custody in New York on charges of federal sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy. He has pleaded not guilty, with a trial set to begin in 2020, per CNN. (Epstein once had plans for a "baby ranch" in New Mexico.)

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