Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll’s brother-in-law was indicted Monday in connection with a large Pasco County oxycontin-distribution ring targeted by the local sheriff’s office and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
Authorities say Edward Beckles, the 59-year-old owner and operator of Ed’s Family Friendly Pharmacy, was providing prescription pain medication to two drug rings that operated between Florida and Kentucky. Beckles also dispensed pills to at least one woman in return for sex, authorities said.
Beckles is married to Carroll’s sister, and upon his arrest he let DEA agents know of his powerful sister-in-law who knew nothing of the case or his activities.
"Lt Gov. Carroll is not familiar with Mr. Beckles’ arrest or his business practices and she has never visited his pharmacy," the governor’s office said in a written statement. "She is surprised and saddened that this has happened to her sister’s family."
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The drug bust is the second controversy ensnaring Carroll in recent months.
A former aide accused Carroll, who is married, of being involved in a lesbian relationship with another aide, a claim Carroll vehemently denied to the point of making comments that suggested attractive black women don’t engage in homosexual relationships. She later apologized for the remark.
The former aide who leveled the lesbian charges against Carroll, Carletha Cole, is currently facing a trial for illegally disclosing conversations recorded when Cole worked for Carroll.
Carroll’s spat and her intemperate remarks in the case of her former aide might have cost her a key role in addressing the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August. Carroll, a telegenic former state representative from Jacksonville, is the only black Republican lawmaker in the state’s Capitol.
Gov. Rick Scott, whose poll numbers are low, hasn’t been invited yet to give a major address at the convention, either. Aides say the governor is focused more on governing than campaigning.
Ironically, one of Scott’s major accomplishments was legislation his office pushed to crack down on pain-medication distribution, which is considered to be a major problem in Tampa Bay and South Florida.
In this most recent case, however, authorities decided to slap federal instead of state charges on Beckles.
He was indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone and possession with intent to distribute oxycodone while acting outside the course of professional practice. He faces 20 years for each charge.