It has been difficult for Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys to keep up with the Allied Veterans of the World case. The case is being tried in Sanford, Florida. The trial is not being televised. There have not been as many articles written about this scandal lately. When the story broke in March of this year, the media coverage was insane. The media attention to this matter has since calmed down. Many Duval County lawyers are interested, because the former president of the Jacksonville Bar is on trial. Florida criminal lawyers are interested, because this case includes so many criminal charges and because of the interpretation of laws. Jacksonville criminal lawyers are also watching this case, because the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police President was arrested in connection with the Allied Veterans Scandal.
After several days of no coverage in the Allied Veteran’s case, The Florida Times Union reported:
“Prosecutors told jurors at attorney Kelly Mathis’ trial Monday that they had rested their case, less than 10 days after giving opening statements in which they accused Mathis of helping build a network of gaming centers — often called Internet cafes — that actually were computer casinos. The prosecution rested without calling 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 around Florida.”
Yesterday, “Judge Kenneth Lester tossed out more than 50 money laundering charges against Kelly Mathis. A jury will still decide whether he is guilty of more than 100 other charges of racketeering, running a lottery and possessing slot machines related to Allied Veterans of the World. Mathis spoke to the media after his hearing. He stated, “If you shoot me with 103 bullets versus 156, 103 are still going to kill me…. I didn’t do anything wrong. We’re going to continue to fight these charges.”
The Florida state attorneys prosecuting this case “refused to comment on the judge’s ruling…. On Tuesday, prosecutor April Acharekar told the judge that jurors should be given the chance to decide if Mathis committed any crimes.” She stated, “He was certainly in control of some aspects of the organization.”
The Sacramento Bee gave a summary of the State of Florida and defense’s theory of the case:
“Prosecutors alleged Mathis helped build 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. They said veterans received very little of the money generated from the Internet cafes…. But defense attorneys say Mathis only provided legal advice to Allied Veterans and did nothing wrong. They say Mathis never controlled, owned or managed any of the dozens of Allied Veterans Internet cafes in Florida. Even if he did, the centers were offering sweepstakes, not gambling, the defense attorneys said.”
The defense is basically arguing that Mathis merely gave legal advice. Jacksonville attorneys give legal advice all the time. This is what they are hired to do. According to the defense, Mathis told his clients what he believe they could and could not do under Florida law.