US: Florida politician resigns after $300 million scheme
Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll resigned on Wednesday amid questions regarding her connection to a military veterans’ charity at the center of a $300 million money laundering and racketeering scam, the office Florida Governor Rick Scott announced Wednesday. Officials on Tuesday arrested fifty-seven people connected to the charity, Allied Veterans of the World. Those arrested stand accused of funding extravagant lifestyles using money meant for veterans and their families.
Allied Veterans of the World operated gambling websites using virtual slot machines; the majority of proceeds from the gaming outfit were meant to go to charities aiding veterans and their families. Instead, executives spent the money lavishly on themselves, with the four main conspirators accused of pocketing a combined $90 million, according to a joint press release by law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation. The accused allegedly used a complex web of over 100 for-profit corporations, shell companies, and Internet cafes to conceal the true nature of the operation. Investigators estimate that no more than two percent of the proceeds from the gambling operation ever made it to any charities.
Two members of law enforcement, also arrested in connection with the scandal, are accused of making in excess of $500,000. The pair, who withdrew money on a weekly basis just under federal thresholds for mandatory flagging of transactions, are also charged with structuring transactions to evade reporting, the press release states.
The execution of the arrest warrants took place across 23 of Florida’s 67 counties, as well as in five other US states. The joint law enforcement initiative against Allied Veterans of the World, code-named Operation “Reveal the Deal”, began in 2009. The investigation involved three county sheriff’s offices, Florida law enforcement officials, the US Internal Revenue Service, and the United States Secret Service. The agencies worked in partnership with the Florida Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution and the United States Attorney’s Office, according to a joint press release.
Carroll consulted for Allied Veterans in 2009-10 while a member of the Florida House of Representatives. She was questioned by Florida law enforcement on Wednesday but was not arrested.