Lt. Gov. Carroll of Florida resigns

March 13, 2013 at 5:20 PM
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 13 (UPI) -- Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll has resigned after questions about her ties to a purported veterans' organization police say is a front for illegal gambling.

Carroll, a Republican and the first black statewide officeholder in Florida since 1868, submitted her resignation Tuesday, The Miami Herald reported. Gov. Rick Scott's office said state investigators interviewed Carroll Tuesday about Allied Veterans of the World, which operates a chain of Internet cafes.

Hours after Carroll's resignation was announced, federal, state and local law enforcement officials said 57 people associated with AVW -- including four of the organization's executives and two Jacksonville, Fla., police officers -- have been charged with offenses including racketeering, conspiracy, lottery, keeping gambling houses and money laundering, WFTV-TV, Orlando, Fla., reported.

The investigation -- called "Operation Reveal the Deal" -- uncovered 49 Internet cafes and strip mall casinos where illegal gambling was conducted, WFTV said.

Allied Veterans describes itself as a non-profit charitable organization but investigators say less than 2 percent of its income goes to charity. The organization allegedly brought in $300 million from 2007 to 2012.

Carroll's public relations company once represented Allied Veterans and she consulted for the organization while serving in the Florida House of Representatives in 2009 and 2010, the governor's office said.

"Lieutenant Governor Carroll resigned in an effort to keep her former affiliations with the company from distraction from the administration's important work on behalf of Florida families," a Scott spokesman said in a statement. "She made the right decision for the state and her family."

Carroll has not been charged in the investigation.

Suspects in six states -- Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia -- include former Allied Veterans national commander Johnny Duncan, 62, of Boiling Springs, S.C.; current commander Jerry Bass, 62, of Jacksonville; Chase Burns, 37, of Fort Cobb, Okla.; and Kelly Mathis, 49, also of Jacksonville, who is identified as the organization's attorney, WFTV said.

Investigators said the four suspects received a total of more than $90 million from the alleged scheme.

Several people were arrested Tuesday, including Nelson Cuba, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Jacksonville, and Robert Freitas, the organization's vice president.

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