Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll (R) has resigned over her ties to a non-profit caught up in a racketeering and money laundering investigation.Gov. Rick Scott’s office announced Carroll’s resignation Wednesday morning, after Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials interviewed Carroll this week about work that her former public relations company did for Allied Veterans of the World, a Florida-based nonprofit. According to The Miami Herald, Allied Veterans of the World operates a chain of internet cafes in the state, and Carroll’s public relations firm did work for the non-profit while Carroll was serving in the Florida House.
“Individuals were arrested Tuesday for a racketeering and money laundering charges in connection with Allied Veterans of the Worlds (sic) illegal gambling companies,” Scott Chief of Staff Adam Hollingsworth said in a statement obtained by the Herald. “Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll consulted for Allied Veterans while serving as a member of the Florida House of Representatives in 2009 and 2010. She was interviewed by Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers Tuesday regarding her work with the company. Lt. Gov. Carroll resigned in an effort to keep her former affiliations with the company from distraction (sic) from the administration’s important work on behalf of Florida families. She made the right decision for the state and her family.”
The Herald reported Wednesday that the investigation spanned several years and involved authorities in Oklahoma and Florida, as well as the Internal Revenue Service. In Oklahoma, authorities arrested Chase Burns, the owner of International Internet Technologies, who is accused of supplying illegal gaming software to outlets in Florida. According to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, Burns and others claimed the money played and lost on the games would be donated to Allied Veterans of the World. Prosecutors believe Burns earned more than $290 million on the gaming software and units, while the non-profit received less than one percent of the proceeds.
In Florida, meanwhile, First Coast News reported, citing a law enforcement source, that all Allied Veterans of the World cafes in the state have been shut down. Those arrested included “[m]any store managers, assistants and major owners,” along with leaders of Jacksonville, Fla.’s Fraternal Order of Police.
Scott tapped Carroll to be his running mate in 2010. Carroll was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad West Indies, and immigrated to the United States as a child. She enlisted in the Navy in 1979 and served for 20 years, eventually retiring as a lieutenant commander. Carroll served as a state legislator for seven years, before becoming the first female elected as lieutenant governor in Florida, and the first African-American elected to statewide office.
According to the Herald, Scott plans address the media Wednesday afternoon.