A Jacksonville attorney’s criminal trial will be coming to an end this week. Kelly Mathis is the Jacksonville lawyer “charged with using a veterans group to help build a network of storefront casinos throughout Florida.” Through his criminal lawyers, Mathis has argued that he only gave legal advice that was reasonable based on the law. The State Attorney will begin closing arguments on Wednesday. The trial began on September 17 and was expected to last over a month. Read Florida Criminal Trial Begins for Jacksonville Lawyer. It is wrapping up this week, which is the fourth week of the trial. There are several reasons why Florida criminal attorneys expected the trial to last longer. Originally, Mathis was charged with approximately 150 criminal counts. After the defense moved to dismiss those counts, the judge dismissed over 50 counts. Mathis is now being “charged with about 100 counts of illegal gambling, possessing slot machines and racketeering.”
Also, there was a laundry list of witnesses for this Florida criminal trial. “Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys called as witnesses some of Mathis’ key co-defendants who had reached deals with prosecutors: former Allied Veterans of the World leaders Johnny Duncan and Jerry Bass, as well as Chase Burns, who operated a company that made software for computers at the dozens of Allied Veterans centers across Florida.” Mathis’ defense attorneys listed several high profile witnesses ranging from Governor Rick Scott to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. The Florida Times Union reported, “These defense witnesses did not testify at the criminal trial. The scope of the defense’s case was curtailed by a ruling by the judge that limited testimony from witnesses about efforts by local governments and the state Legislature to regulate the centers.” Mathis’ attorney stated, “Such testimony would have been valuable to the defense…. They would have explained their analysis of the law was consistent with Mr. Mathis’ analysis of the law, thereby reflecting the legality of this business…We think that that evidence is powerful evidence that verifies that Mr. Mathis was traveling under a correct legal analysis that this was indeed legal.”
Mathis was one of 57 people arrested in connection with the Allied Veteran’s of America gaming centers. The Allied Veteran’s scandal “caused the Florida Legislature to ban gaming centers that are more commonly called Internet cafes and led to the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. Carroll had worked as a consultant for Allied Veterans. She wasn’t charged with any crime…. Prosecutors claim Mathis and his associates built up the network of casinos by claiming they were businesses where customers could buy Internet time, when in reality most customers played slot machine games on computers and didn’t use the Internet. Even though the centers were being operated under the aegis of Allied Veterans of the World, very little of the $300 million the Allied Veteran affiliates earned actually went to veterans, prosecutors said.” Mathis’ has firmly held since the beginning of the scandal that “he had a client and the client was conducting what was legitimately believed to be legal operations.”
There were many people involved in this scandal. “Also arrested were Jacksonville’s Fraternal Order of Police leaders Nelson Cuba and Robbie Freitas. Their trials aren’t expected until 2014.” As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I wonder if Mathis’ verdict will play a role on whether or not Nelson Cuba and the other co-defendants go to trial. I wish this trial had more media coverage, so we could have a basis for an opinion on the evidence in this case.