Michael Reiter (police officer)

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Michael Reiter is an American security advisor who previously served as chief of police of Palm Beach, Florida, from 2001 to 2009. Having served in the Palm Beach Police Department since 1981, he has been involved in several high-profile criminal investigations in the affluent town with several nationally-prominent residents, including the overdose death of David Kennedy and the criminal investigation into Jeffrey Epstein. Reiter came to international attention since the mid-2000s when he initiated the first inquiry into Epstein,[1][2][3] a billionaire investor who was accused of involvement in multinational child sex trafficking and having sex with a minor, and was later convicted for soliciting an underage girl for prostitution.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Reiter grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While serving as a police officer, he earned several college degrees and certifications in law enforcement and public safety. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Florida Atlantic University and a master's degree in human resource development from Palm Beach Atlantic University. Reiter also graduated from the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program and the Crisis Management Program at the Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Reiter is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the U.S. Secret Service's Dignitary Protection Program.[4]


Before joining the police department in the Town of Palm Beach, Florida, Reiter served as a campus police officer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1981, at 22 years old, he moved to Palm Beach and joined the Palm Beach Police Department (PBPD) as a patrol officer and later became a detective investigating organized crime, substance abuse, and vice.[5]

In 1984, one of his first cases as a detective was investigating the source of illegal drugs after the death of David Kennedy.[4][6][7] Reiter was the lead investigator on the highly publicized case involving the third son of Ethel and Robert F. Kennedy. For two years, he investigated the cocaine suppliers that provided the illegal drugs that led to Kennedy's overdose death. Even a decade later, Reiter continued to get tips from supposed informants who claimed to have new information on the case.[6]

Reiter was promoted to sergeant in 1985.[4] By 1989, he was head of the Organized Crime, Vice, and Narcotics Unit.[8] He continued to rise through the ranks to captain in 1992, and major in 1993, before serving as assistant chief for three years beginning in 1998.[5] Reiter was later appointed as chief of the police department in March 2001.[4] At the same time, he served as vice-chairman of the Palm Beach County Anti-Terrorism Committee in 2003[9] and chairman of the committee in 2004.[10] In November 2004, he also served as chairman of the Palm Beach County Election Security Task Force.[11]

In 2004, Reiter initiated the first inquiry into Jeffrey Epstein and his possible involvement in human trafficking.[5] Prior to the investigation, Epstein had made donations to the PBPD for the purchase of additional equipment needed to investigate a crime in which Epstein was the victim.[12] However, Reiter grew suspicious of the billionaire after his officers received reports of suspicious activity around Epstein's home—such as young women entering and exiting the home at odd hours and loitering on the block.[5] The department launched a several-months-long investigation and gathered "sworn statements from five alleged victims and 17 witnesses."[13] Reiter requested that Epstein be charged with at least four counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor with girls as young as 14 years old.[1] The chief also returned the recent donations to PBPD back to Epstein.[14]

After turning the evidence over to prosecutors, Reiter was "outraged" to learn that the State Attorney's office offered Epstein a plea agreement.[15] On May 1, 2006, the PBPD requested an arrest warrant be issued for Epstein's arrest, and Reiter wrote a letter to Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer, "all but demanding that [Krischer] recuse himself from the case."[2][16] At a grand jury hearing in July 2006, state prosecutors obtained an indictment of one count of felony solicitation of prostitution.[13] Again dissatisfied by the outcome, Reiter contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the federal prosecutor for the Southern District of Florida, Alexander Acosta.[17] Reiter also sent letters to the each of victim's parents explaining that he believed justice had not been served.[3][18] Epstein, under threat of federal prosecution,[19] agreed to plead guilty to the state charge of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution,[3] served a 13-month jail sentence, and was registered as a sex offender.[20]

On January 23, 2009, Reiter announced his retirement from the Palm Beach Police Department, effective February 27, after 28 years with the department and the last eight years as the police chief.[4] Following his retirement from the department, Reiter started Michael Reiter and Associates, a Palm Beach-based firm that provides private security, crisis management, and investigative services.[21][22]

Personal life[edit]

Reiter is married to Janet Pleasants, and they continue to live in Palm Beach.[23][24] He is a historian with a particular interest in early Palm Beach history.[25][26] Reiter acts as Palm Beach's unofficial town historian, and he was the initial organizer of the town's centennial celebration in 2011.[27]

In 1996, with the help of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, Reiter rediscovered the first two and, as of 2006, the only PBPD officers to die in the line of duty: Joseph Smith (d. 1923) and John Cash (d. 1926). In May 2006, the officers were commemorated with an inscribed plaque in Memorial Fountain Park.[28] In June 1999, he also rediscovered the lost story of a West Palm Beach Police (WPBP) officer, William Morgan Payton, who was killed while on duty. While researching the unrelated deaths in his own police department's early history, Reiter discovered a press clipping about the 1924 trial on Payton's death and alerted the WPBP. Payton was later recognized as the first West Palm Beach Police officer killed in the line of duty.[29]


  1. ^ a b "Another Outrageous Legal Situation in Florida". Fox News. August 16, 2006. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Goodnough, Abby (September 3, 2006). "Questions of Preferential Treatment Are Raised in Florida Sex Case". The New York Times. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Fisher, Marc (March 26, 2017). "Why did Trump's choice for Labour Secretary cut a deal with a billionaire in a sex abuse case?". The Independent. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e Kacoha, Margie (January 24, 2009). "Reiter retires as police chief". Palm Beach Daily News. pp. 1A, 14A. Retrieved September 12, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ a b c d Patterson, James; Connolly, John J.; Malloy, Tim (2017). Filthy rich. New York: Hachette Book Group. pp. 18–19. ISBN 9781455542680. OCLC 978835477.
  6. ^ a b O'Meilia, Tim (April 25, 1994). "Decade later, tips trickle in on Kennedy overdose case". The Palm Beach Post. p. 1A, 6A. Retrieved September 24, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ Bishop, Ron (January 30, 1985). "Dealer Plot Probed In Kennedy's Death". The Palm Beach Post. p. B1. Retrieved September 24, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ Madigan, Nick (August 17, 1989). "Work-release inmate named in scam". The Palm Beach Post. p. 2B. Retrieved September 24, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ Othon, Nancy; Franceschina, Peter (March 13, 2003). "County: We are ready for Code Red". South Florida Sun Sentinel. p. 1B. Retrieved September 24, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Marra, Andrew (January 14, 2004). "Mock assaults carried out on cargo ship". The Palm Beach Post. p. 5B. Retrieved September 24, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ Kacoha, Margie (November 3, 2004). "Chief Reiter leads county's Election Day security". Palm Beach Daily News. p. 7. Retrieved September 24, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ Dargan, Michele (December 13, 2009). "Ex-chief details hurdles in Epstein probe". Palm Beach Daily News.
  13. ^ a b Keller, Larry (July 26, 2006). "After long probe, Palm Beach billionaire faces solicitation charge". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  14. ^ Sarnoff, Conchita (July 22, 2010). "Jeffrey Epstein Pedophile Billionaire and His Sex Den". The Daily Beast. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  15. ^ Patterson, Connolly & Malloy 2017, p. 165–66
  16. ^ Patterson, Connolly & Malloy 2017, p. 166: "Reiter took the extraordinary step of writing Barry Krischer a letter all but demanding that he recuse himself from the case."
  17. ^ Patterson, Connolly & Malloy 2017, p. 177
  18. ^ Patterson, Connolly & Malloy 2017, p. 180–81
  19. ^ Patterson, Connolly & Malloy 2017, p. 201–206
  20. ^ Patterson, Connolly & Malloy 2017, p. 209
  21. ^ Kopf, Aleese (July 16, 2016). "Former Palm Beach police chief: Terrorists aim to create fear, hurt economy". Palm Beach Daily News. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  22. ^ Kacoha, Margie (May 24, 2009). "Police chief retires, enters private sector". Palm Beach Daily News. p. A9. Retrieved September 24, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  23. ^ Murray, Mary (March 23, 2018). "Q&A with Janet Pleasants". Palm Beach Illustrated. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  24. ^ Donnelly, Shannon (August 12, 2007). "Town's top cop pops the question". Palm Beach Daily News. p. B1. Retrieved September 23, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  25. ^ Newspapers, Palm Beach (February 2006). History buff: The Past is his present – and future – obsession. Palm Beach Newspapers. p. 32.
  26. ^ Reiter, Michael (April 16, 2011). "Police ledgers from 1920s capture unvarnished details of Palm Beach life". Palm Beach Daily News. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  27. ^ Kacoha, Margie (September 28, 2008). "Slammer avoids fate of it key". Palm Beach Daily News. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  28. ^ OMeilia, Tim (May 17, 2006). "Palm Beach to dedicate plaque to fallen officers". The Palm Beach Post. p. 3B. Retrieved September 24, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ Kleinberg, Eliot (May 12, 2018). "West Palm's first slain police officer was forgotten for years. But not now". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved September 24, 2018.

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