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Lt. Gov. Carroll Resigns as Internet Cafe Scandal Sweeps Florida–and Palm Coast

| March 13, 2013

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll.

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll.

Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll abruptly resigned Tuesday in a curt, two-line letter to Gov. Rick Scott. The resignation is tied to Carroll’s former involvement with Allied Veterans of the World, a non-profit that runs innumerable Internet cafe-style, small-stakes gambling parlors across the state and in other states.

Almost a dozen Internet cafes operate in Palm Coast, and at least one of them–near Home Depot, off of Palm Coast Parkway–was being raided by Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies this morning in a related development.

The raids are part of a broad sweep by authorities across the state following the arrest this week of Allied Veterans officials on racketeering charges. The arrests follow a six-year investigation by the IRS and the federal Secret Service. Among those arrested: Jerry Bass, the National Commander of Allied Veterans of the World Inc. and Affiliates. He was booked into the Duval County Jail Tuesday.

Allied Veterans backed the opening by Disabled American Veterans of an Internet Cafe in Flagler Beach in November 2010, but the city commission refused to amending its zoning code to allow for the establishment, citing various concerns.

Palm Coast’s city government has been waging a low-grade war with Internet cafes, trying to negotiate their capacity to do business in the city without being overrun by them. The city last developed restrictive regulations that apply to the cafes. Meanwhile, city and county officials have been urging legislators either to ban the cafes or to adopt universal regulations that might enable localities to tax the establishments further. This week’s developments may spur the Legislature to do just that–and Scott to push for regulatory legislation in order to counter the damage to his administration, from his association with Carroll, as he approaches his re-election campaign.

“Lt. Gov. Carroll resigned in an effort to keep her former affiliation with the company from distracting from the administration’s important work on behalf of Florida Families,” Adam Hollingsworth, Scott’s chief-of-staff, said in remarks picked up by the Times-Union this morning.

Allied Veterans has been at the forefront of lobbying efforts that have enabled the cafes to mushroom all over the state. The non-profit also runs cafes, dozens of which were being searched Tuesday and Wednesday. There are 21 Allied Veterans cafes in Central Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Carroll, a Navy veteran, had owned a company called 3N & JC, a consultancy she put to work on behalf of Allied Veterans, and played a role in a commercial for the Allied Veterans in 2010.

“Effective immediately,” Carroll, who rose through Clay County Republican ranks, wrote Scott on Tuesday, “I hereby resign the Office of Lieutenant Governor of the State of Florida. It has been an honor to have served the state of Florida in this capacity.”

According to the Times-Union, “Allied Veterans is accused of money laundering, using money from a nonprofit for personal gain and misrepresenting the amount donated to charities. Authorities say the group donated just 2 percent of its $290 million in proceeds to charities over about five years. They also say the former president received more than $1.5 million and the national commander got $250,000 from the organization.”

Federal, state and local police agencies from across Florida were planning a news conference for noon today in Orlando on the Internet cafe sweeps.

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20 Responses for “Lt. Gov. Carroll Resigns as Internet Cafe Scandal Sweeps Florida–and Palm Coast”

  1. Magnolia says:

    Damn…I knew it! Legitimate veterans organizations would never associate with gambling, unless of course you are in Florida or New Jersey, where just about anything goes. After all, Florida IS becoming Jersey south.

    Organizations like these give veterans a bad name. The money is needed elsewhere.

  2. I love the quote “trying to negotiate their capacity to do business in the city without being overrun by them”. If we have nearly a dozen, then we already are.

    The first one I saw of these was next to the Thai restaurant and the dry cleaners by Winn Dixie. And the first thing that entered my mind when I saw the word “sweepstakes” was “rip-off”. These things are praying on the bored elderly and folks with gambling problems. Do we really want more people in PC to have money problems? Regulation is not enough.

    If we don’t want empty stores/complexes, then why do we keep building them? (PC Pkwy Eastbound next to Wendy’s)

    • DLF says:

      I did see one of the owners forcing one of the old boring citizens into one of these dens of evil. Maybe should give them to the government to run, they are doing such a great job with everything else.

    • DANIEL says:

      Excuse me but these places create jobs that the great U.S.A. needs badly so please look at the unemployment rate and tell me what you see because to get rid of these places it will double along with small business that support these place like the caterers and chip venders soda companies that will close. It isnt as simple as get rid of them. Create jobs then get rid of them! As an employee of one of these establishments i’ll say give me a job that i make a grand a week like i do now and then close them until then leave us be cause i cant afford to go on unemployment because most of my income is tips and unemployment doesnt cover that

      • Nancy N. says:

        Drug dealers make a lot of money and support their families and employ people and spend money in the community too…I don’t see anyone rushing to legalize coke and meth anytime soon.

        Sorry, you get no sympathy here. You had to know at best that your job was preying on people who couldn’t afford the activity, many of whom were addicted, or at worst that it was illegal.

        This is not the kind of jobs that our community needs.

  3. Mikeylikesit says:

    Ruh-roh!

    Will FDLE be knocking on Jennifer’s door next? Oh wait… They probably don’t knock for these kinds of visits.

  4. Samuel Smith says:

    This is a fantastic example of how off the priorities of Florida politicians and their electorate are. Being at the center of the largest medicare fraud fine in history totally ok, but have previous involvement with a company that’s being investigated for money laundering and fraud and it is instant resignation.

  5. Deep South says:

    I am so tired of listening to people blaming these Internet Cafes. Any sensible adult should know the consequences and risk in gambling. People make it sound like the elderly are clueless and just fell off the turnip wagon. Hell, even my 89 year old Mama knows the risk it takes in playing Bingo. If people can’t control their capability to handle what they can afford and what they can not afford, then they need to change their life style. Their are to many that are trying to live a Champagne Life on a Beer Budget. Yes I am a Senior, but I know when to hold them, and when to fold them.

    • DLF says:

      Good point, but we Americans do want to blame someone else for our lack of good judgement.

    • Nancy N. says:

      We outlaw a LOT of things that any sensible adult would know are bad for you: drugs, driving without a seatbelt or motorcycle helmet (well, except in Florida), I could go on and on. We do it to protect people who are too stupid to protect themselves – and so we can punish people who try to take advantage of the weak among us.

  6. Nancy N. says:

    I agree with Kenny…if we had that many Starbucks, people would be whining about how there was one on every corner.

    I’m not sure why Carroll felt the need to resign. Most people couldn’t even name the lt. governor, and even if they could…her boss is a much bigger crook than her apparent involvement in this mess and the voters didn’t seem to care when they elected him.

  7. confidential says:

    Big corruption thru lobbying. The Fed should also investigate this other so called ” Veterans…” organization soliciting money donations in their khakis and boots, in Palm Coast more than once a year in front of Walmart and Publix as I saw them last for at least the past 3 or 4 years. They are not affiliated with any real Veterans organization as I was told by the local Vets Chapters. They seat in RI and can’t be denied peddling as I been told, because they will “SUE”.

  8. Jim Neuenfeldt says:

    This Allied Veterans was a SCAM from the get go all the way back to their just bingo day’s.
    http://staugustine.com/stories/050405/new_3053376.shtml

  9. rickg says:

    Well its official…. there were two criminals in the Governor’s office…

  10. Jojo says:

    She just about sealed the coffin for Scott’s reelection bid. She is going to be arrested soon maybe even legislators too. Scott threw her to the lions by saying, “she did the right thing and resigned.” Now, how about you resign Scott for the Medicare fraud.

  11. biker says:

    This explains why the legislature refused to act on their own study. Instead they chose to turn a blind eye to what any normal thinking individual would clearly identify as gambling. It is going to be interesting to see which legislators are drawn into this mess

  12. Donna De Poalo says:

    It’s time for someone better..Adam Tebrugge for Lieutenant Goverrnor #AT4LtGov

    http://at4h71.blogspot.com/2013/03/my-campaign-for-lieutenant-governor.html

  13. concerned citizen says:

    Okay let me get this straight. The Judges of the seventh judicial circuit are holding internet cafe owner/operators on higher bail than drug dealers,people who beat the elderly,people who are arrested for dui,people who are arrested on a daily basis for violent crimes. The internet cafe people are the bad guys? Look if you have done something wrong you shoud have to face the consequences, but really FLAGLER COUNTY JUDGES this is nothing, but a dang aol redneck town that does whatever/whenever it wants. Lets hold the JUDGES accountable I bet you see stuff change real quick!!

  14. wsh302@msn.com says:

    trust a politician? i don’t think so, crooked two faced people talking out of both sides of their mouths

  15. jp says:

    corruption in politics? can’t be…..

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