Federal authorities have charged the brother-in-law of Jennifer Carroll, Florida's embattled lieutenant governor, with trying to illegally sell prescription painkillers.
According to U.S. attorneys, Edward Benjamin Alister Beckles, a licensed pharmacist, was filling fake prescriptions of Oxycodone. The officials said that 17 people were charged with trying to sell the painkiller illegally, and they were coming to Beckles's pharmacy to have their prescriptions filled. If convicted, Eckles could face up to 20 years in prison.
In a statement, the Florida governor's office said that Carroll "is not familiar with Mr. Beckles' arrest or his business practices and she has never visited his pharmacy."
"She is surprised and saddened this has happened to her sister's family," the statement continued
Carroll has been in the center of several controversies in recent months. Carroll, a Republican, is chairing a state committee looking into the Stand Your Ground laws in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting. Martin, an unarmed teenager, was shot in February by George Zimmerman, on his way home from a convenience store. The case has become a become a flashpoint in the debates over racial profiling and gun control laws. Stand Your Ground laws give wide latitude to the use of deadly force in self-defense. The law could protect Zimmerman, who said he was defending himself from Martin. Zimmerman was following Martin after he told a dispatcher he looked suspicious.
That panel has been criticized for being comprised of members who had been supporters of or voted for the law.
"This task force is not here to try the Zimmerman-Martin case," she said in June. "We are charged to review the public safety law and make recommendations. This law is not about race. This law is not specific to any one area in our state or person. It can apply to any Floridian in any area of the state."
Carroll also courted controversy for comments she made in July related to a lawsuit filed by a former employee who alleged that she caught Carroll in a "compromising position" with another woman in Carroll's capitol office.
"Black women that look like me don't engage in relationships like that," a giggling Carroll said to a reporter. LGBTQ activists and Democrats criticized Carroll's comments and demanded she apologize. She did so in a letter to a gay rights group last week.
"As a Christian, my faith guides me to love and respect all people," Carroll continued. "The false charges that have been lodged against me are no excuse for what I have said that may have been hurtful to members of your organization and to other Floridians...I hope you will accept my heartfelt apology."
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