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TT-born Florida Lt Gov resigns
Trinidad-born Jennifer Carroll, described by the New York Times as a rising Republican star, resigned last Tuesday as Florida’s lieutenant governor after a probe by US law-enforcement authorities into a major gambling scandal in the United States. Authorities are investigating an Internet cafe Carroll once represented, which has been implicated in the scandal.
Her public relations firm did work for the St Augustine, Florida-based charity Allied Veterans of the World. Authorities say the veterans charity was a US$300 million front for illegal gambling. According to an affidavit from the US Inland Revenue Service, “Allied Veterans evolved from a charitable organisation that ran bingo games and held bake sales for veterans beginning in 1979 to a group suspected of operating more than 40 illegal gambling locations around Florida.”
The veterans’ charity was a fraud, the IRS said. Carroll reportedly appeared in a television ad in 2011 promoting the organisation’s charitable work for veterans and their families. Reports also recalled Carroll proposed a bill when she was in the US legislature that would benefit Internet cafes. According to news reports, 57 arrest warrants and 54 search warrants were issued at gambling operations in 23 Florida counties and five states: Alabama, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
Charges of racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and possession of slot machines are expected to be filed soon. Almost 60 people in six states were arrested and the scandal is reportedly widening. Carroll turned in her resignation last Tuesday, the day after being questioned. “Effective immediately, I hereby resign the Office of Lieutenant Governor of the State of Florida. It has been an honour to have served the State of Florida in this capacity,” Carroll wrote.
Republican Florida Gov Rick Scott has said Carroll resigned so her former ties to the company would not be a distraction for the administration. He did not say whether he asked her to resign.
Carroll was born in Port-of-Spain in 1959, migrated to the US as a young child and became the first African-American elected statewide and first woman to serve as lieutenant governor. Carroll, 53, visited Trinidad in August last year for a week. She led a delegation of 27 Florida companies and met several government ministers and members of the business community during her stay.
She assumed office as Lt Gov in January 2011. A married mother of three, she was elected to the state House in 2003 and served as deputy majority leader and majority whip. She is a navy veteran who served in the Gulf War.She served 20 years in the US Navy as a jet mechanic before retiring as a lieutenant commander.
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