JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Bill Carter is a local Vietnam-era veteran. Wednesday night he was left feeling betrayed and blindsided, he says, by those he once thought of as brethren.
"It's probably one of the greatest injustices that you'll hear anything about,” said Carter. "To betray a trust like that is just unfathomable."
It’s being called “Operation Reveal the Deal.” Investigators said Wednesday it involved a $300 million money laundering scheme organized by Allied Veterans of the World.
Federal, state and local investigators say the group claimed to be a nonprofit organization with 70 percent of their proceeds going to help the veterans. In reality, law enforcement officials revealed, the group was donating less than 2 percent and lining its pockets with 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.
Many veterans didn’t want to go on camera after the news broke, fearful this will be a black eye for veteran’s organizations nationwide.
"I just think it's a real bad thing for the rest of us veterans' organizations that are trying to do good,” said one local veteran who didn’t want his identity revealed.
To those behind the scheme, the ones Carter calls the lowest of low, he says it’s an insult to everything our nation’s heroes fought so hard for.
"It literally makes you want to cry. Friends of mine have died. Their blood has been left on the battlefield. For someone to take money is probably the most disgusting thing I can think of behind child molestation,” said Carter.
The investigation spanned six states and 23 Florida counties with 49 arrests made, while 57 arrest warrants and 53 search warrants were issued.
More arrests are expected.