TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - There is evidence of a fire that could have set the state Capitol ablaze. The pictures are part of a closed FDLE arson investigation.
In the report Beatriz Ramos, a travel aide for Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, admits to starting the fire.
Ramos is also accused of carrying on an inappropriate relationship with Carroll. The allegations are all part of a court filing in the case of Carletha Cole. Cole is a former web designer for Carroll who was fired for telling reporters the office was in disarray.
After Cole was fired, she leaked illegally recorded audio that was supposed to expose chaos in the office. She was arrested and charged with a felony.
Her attorney is fighting back. He says Cole was targeted by Carroll and Ramos because she caught the two in “a compromising position.” After the alleged incident Cole claims she was regularly harassed and Ramos set her trash can ablaze.
“The State Attorney’s Office should conduct a real investigation, ask real questions about the arson and determine whether or not it was inadvertent or intentional," said Cole's attorney Steven Webster.
According to the FDLE Report, Ramos smoked a cigar just a block from the state Capitol. After taking a few puffs, she extinguished the cigar, wrapped it in a paper towel. walked back to the Capitol and threw it away in Cole’s trash can.
If Ramos took the most direct path to the Capitol she would have passed five trash cans and an ashtray before entering the building.
Four days after the fire, Ramos told her story to an FDLE agent. No charges were brought and the evidence was destroyed. One day after the case was closed, Cole’s attorney says Carroll wrote a letter of recommendation for the investigator.
Cole’s attorney claims the fire and the closed investigation proves his client was targeted and that Carroll had enough pull to have criminal charges brought against Cole.
Asked about the investigation and allegations Gretl Plessinger, FDLE Director of Communications, issued this response:
“With the responsible party stepping forward and absent any other evidence or suspicious circumstances we found her (Ramos) statement credible and determined this to be an accident. However, if there is a witness with additional information, we encourage them to come forward.”
For her part, Lt Governor Jennifer Carroll calls her accuser a lair. Carroll went on the radio telling a WOKV reporter quote, “They aren’t even allegations, they’re outright lies.” She said, “My husband and I have a very healthy and exciting relationship for 29 years and I don’t need to seek satisfaction anywhere else. And I have sought counsel and any further questions on this matter I will be referring to my attorney.”
The Florida Federation of Republican Woman is coming to Carroll’s aid. Their president wrote a letter saying the Lieutenant Governor is the quote “victim of a vile, vicious and ludicrous attack from a disgraced former employee.”
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