JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Disgusted, outraged, and sickened.
Those are just three of the nicer words that some are using to describe how local veterans are feeling after the news that a local veterans group that claimed to help those who served was instead just stealing money to the tune of $300 million over several years and states.
"It literally makes you want to cry," Vietnam-era veteran Bill Carter tells our partner Action News.
On Wednesday JSO held a press conference discussing "Operation Reveal the Deal" and said the non-profit group at the center of the scandal, Allied Veterans of the World, Inc., claimed to be giving 70 percent of their proceeds to help veterans but in reality, the group was donating about two percent to veterans and pocketing the rest.
"Claiming to be an organization designed to help veterans in order to run an illegal scheme insults every American who ever wore a military uniform," said attorney general Pam Bondi during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Bill Carter had a very specific comparison to make in describing how he feels in the aftermath of the scandal.
"Friends of mine have died. Their blood has been left on the battlefield. And for someone to take money is probably the most disgusting thing I can think of behind child molestation," said Carter. "To betray a trust like that is just unfathomable."
Carter says it's that betrayal of trust that hurts more than the money stealing. Other veterans are staying anonymous because they're worried other veterans groups could be shown in a bad light.
"I just think it's a real bad thing for the rest of us veterans' organizations that are trying to do good," one local vet tells our partner Action News.
The scandal led to the arrests of Jacksonville police union president Nelson Cuba and vice president Robbie Freitas as well as the resignation of Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll on Wednesday morning. Before her time in Tallahassee, Carroll and her husband had owned a public relations firm that had an Allied Veterans site as one of its major clients.