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Fire Marshal: No Investigation into Fla. Capitol Fire

The Florida Fire Marshal will not investigate a fire that happened last year at the Florida Capitol. The Fire Marshal director announced his decision on Monday in a letter responding to a request from the lawyer of a former staffer in Fla. Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll’s office.

Carroll is dismissing the former staff member’s allegations that she had a sexual relationship with her female aide. The fired staffer, Carletha Cole, is charged with a felony for allegedly releasing a recorded staff conversation to a reporter. But Cole’s lawyer had asked Florida’s Fire Marshal to investigate the fire and require Carroll to take a lie detector test.

Lt. Gov. Carroll’s aide, Beatriz Ramos, admits to accidentally starting a fire in Cole’s office trash can last March. But, Cole’s lawyer, Steven Andrews, says the investigation was so lax that it’s impossible to determine whether it was an accident. Andrews says, investigating officers admit to destroying all evidence the night of the fire and they never interviewed his client.

“She requested that fingerprints be taken of her computer because it appeared that it had been moved and tampered with. She also requested that fingerprints be lifted from the garbage can. None of that was done," he says.

He says the fire, Cole’s subsequent firing and her felony charge all came after she witnessed the lieutenant governor and Ramos engaged in a "compromising" position.

The response, from Julius Halas, Director of the Division of the State Fire Marshal, says because the Florida Department of Law Enforcement already interviewed the person responsible for the fire, "under these circumstances, the Division of State Fire Marshal will not conduct an investigation."