Thursday, December 5, 2013
The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks during a news conference Wednesday, March 13, 2013, in Orlando, Fla. Florida's lieutenant governor resigned and nearly 60 other people were charged in a widening scandal of a purported veterans charity that authorities said Wednesday was $300 million front for illegal gambling. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this Oct. 26, 2010 file photo, Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott, right, puts his arm around running mate Rep. Jennifer Carroll, R-Jacksonville, during a campaign stop in New Port Richey, Fla. Carroll abruptly resigned Wednesday, March 13, 2012 after authorities questioned her ties into internet cafes that authorities say are fronts for gambling. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
Most of the money went to for-profit companies and the operators of Allied Veterans, authorities said.
To play games at one of the Internet cafes, a customer gets a prepaid card and then goes to a computer. The games, with spinning wheels similar to slot machines, have names such as "Captain Cash," ''Lucky Shamrocks" and "Money Bunny." Winners go back to a cashier with their cards and cash out.
Each of the locations had rows of computers and a big sign that read: "This is not a gaming establishment." On the walls were photos of company executives making donations and letters of recognition from some of the charities that supposedly benefited.
Prosecutions of similar electronic gaming parlors have had mixed results in Florida courts, with owners saying they fall under a sweepstakes law, much like a fast-food restaurant's contest. Prosecutors have said they are slot machines, which are illegal except at the South Florida horse and dog tracks and American Indian casinos.
In Anadarko, Okla., the owner of International Internet Technologies, a company accused of supplying the cafes with software, was arrested along with his wife. Chase Egan Burns, 37, and Kristin Burns, 38, face charges including racketeering and conspiracy.
International Internet Technologies made $63 million from the Florida operation from 2007 to 2010, according to the IRS.
"What we do is legal," Chase Burns told The Oklahoman on Monday.
Carroll served 20 years in the Navy, working as a jet mechanic before retiring as a lieutenant commander. She was elected Florida's first black lieutenant governor in 2010, winning office as Scott's running mate. She is also a former executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs.
A married mother of three, Carroll has a son who plays for the Miami Dolphins.
Carroll became embroiled in a short-lived scandal last year when a fired staffer claimed that she walked in on Carroll and a female aide in a compromising position. Carroll denied that.
She became the brunt of late-night talk show hosts after she told a TV station that black women who look like her "don't engage in relationships like that." She later apologized for any implication that black lesbians are unattractive.