As multimillionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein comes back into the news based on new charges of sex trafficking dozens of minors, a sheriff’s office in Florida is looking into how it treated the former inmate.
The Washington Post reported that while Epstein was incarcerated – I use the term loosely – in 2008, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office treated him like a “client” rather than an inmate. For starters, Capt. Mark Chamberlain wrote in a memo that Epstein was “poorly versed in jail routine” since he was a first-time offender. Chamberlain added that “his adjustment to incarceration will most likely be atypical.”
And atypical, it was.
Chamberlain allowed Epstein’s cell door to “be left unlocked” and allowed him “liberal access to the attorney room where a TV will be installed.”
Epstein was already known to have had a lenient jail sentence in a minimum-security prison for the crimes of which he was accused, thanks to a generous plea deal orchestrated in part by President Donald Trump’s former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. He spent 12 hours a day, six days a week on a work-release program. His job? Working for a nonprofit foundation that he himself had founded.
Now, thanks to an Internal Affairs investigation, we learned that not only was Epstein allowed out on a work-release program, but that he was accompanied by sheriff’s deputies that he paid for who acted more as security guards than prison officials. From the Post:
Epstein paid $128,136 for the deputies to watch him, according to the records. One deputy wrote that he sought clarification of his duties and was told his job was to “provide security” for Epstein.
The deputies who monitored him were required to wear suits and to “greet inmate Epstein upon his arrival,” documents show. In internal reports about the work-release program, the deputies often describe Epstein as “the client” or “Mr. Epstein.” Two deputies refer to him as “Jeffrey.”
In 464 such reports, only rarely is he “Inmate Epstein.”
Epstein was also allowed to return to his Palm Beach estate at least nine times – once for four hours without supervision. Chief Deputy Mike Gauger told a team of documentary filmmakers that Epstein was not given special treatment because of his wealth and connections (including Trump and former President Bill Clinton), but also said that his wealth and connections demanded “special precautions.”
“I’m just saddened that some people thought it was corruption, that he was given all these privileges because of his wealth,” Gauger said, according to the Post. “He was made to jump through additional hoops and meet additional requirements because of his wealth.”
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw announced the internal-affairs investigation on Friday, saying that “All aspects of the matter will be fully investigated to ensure total transparency and accountability.”
CNN reported that Bradshaw aims 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.”