It has been four months since a jury found a Jacksonville Florida attorney guilty of committing felonies in connection with the Allied Veterans of the World scandal. Kelly Mathis “was convicted last year of 103 counts of racketeering, possessing slot machines and other charges after a trial that lasted four weeks.” Mathis was convicted of the crimes last October. Most Jacksonville criminal lawyers will tell you that it is very unlikely that a judge will allow a defendant convicted of several felonies to remain out of jail pending a sentencing hearing. However, Judge Lester permitted Mathis to remain out of custody.
Mathis is a lawyer in Jacksonville FL. He “was convicted of leading a $300 million gambling ring that used a veterans charity as a front.” He “has been sentenced to 6 years in prison.” The judge sentenced Mathis today after a sentencing hearing. At the hearing, the “judge listened to character witnesses describe the lawyer as a man of integrity who loved his family.” His “attorneys argued that he should be spared prison given he only provided legal advice to Allied Veterans of the World.” On the other hand, the “statewide prosecutor Nick Cox said Mathis deserved prison for engaging in deception. Cox said Mathis was responsible for marrying the gambling operation with the veterans charity.” (News4jax)
When Mathis was sentenced, I wrote an article on the Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers website titled Jacksonville Lawyer Guilty After FL Criminal Jury Trial in Allied Vet Scandal. I thought that it was strange that Mathis was not taken to jail after the guilty verdict. I thought that it was strange that his sentence hearing was passed all the way to February. I thought that this might be a good sign. If the judge wanted him in jail, he could have sent him away that very moment, but he did not. I was surprised that he was sentenced to 6 years in prison today. What I find even more surprising is that Mathis “will remain free on bond pending appeals” after being given this hefty sentence. As a Jacksonville criminal attorney, I can say that this is rare in felony cases as criminal appeals could take years. Perhaps the defense has good issues on appeal?
Many of Mathis’ co-defendants are still awaiting trial. After the verdict and the sentence in this case, I wonder if any of them will work out a plea deal with the state attorney’s office. They may do this out of fear that they will receive a similar fate. They are likely discussing this with their Florida criminal attorneys and going through their options.