Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis
SANFORD, Fla. -- The jury in the Allied Veterans of the World case against Kelly Mathis delivered a verdict Friday night.
The jury found Mathis guilty of 103 of 104 counts. The one count he was found not guilty of was conspiracy. Mathis was convicted of one count of first degree felony racketeering, 51 counts of third degree felony illegal lottery and 51 misdemeanor counts of illegal slot machines. Mathis faces at least 30 years in prison for the racketeering charge.
Mathis expressed shocked in the courtroom: "It was an unjust verdict."
After court Mathis said, "Attorneys all over the nation need to be very afraid when six years after you give legal advice, somebody disagrees with you and convict you of a crime."
State prosecutor Nick Cox was pleased with the verdict, but not the fact that a lawyer was convicted.
doesn't make me happy that we convicted a lawyer," Cox said. "What
message does that send to the public? We already get banged around
enough because we're lawyers, but it also says something about the
system, that you manipulate the system. And that's why accountability
like this is important. Jail, no jail, whatever happens, at least the
public knows there's an accountability for something like this."
Attorney General Pam Bondi said the Mathis verdict sends a message to those running a scheme under the guide of a charitable organization.
"The verdict finding Kelly Mathis guilty should send a strong message that those involved in running this illegal gambling scheme under the façade of a charitable organization to help veterans will be held accountable," Bondi said in a release.
The Judge let Mathis out on bond until his sentencing, which is scheduled for February 12. Mathis' Attorney Mitch Stone said his client will appeal.
"We will appeal, we will have motions filed. The judge was kind enough to give us a couple months to get all that work together," Stone said. "But this fight's not over. We're going to continue on. Obviously disappointed in the verdict, but sometimes that's what happens. That's what appellate courts are made for."
Mathis was the first of 57 defendants to go on trial in the Allied Veterans of the World case "Operation Reveal the Deal," which led to the resignation of Florida's lieutenant governor and a ban on all Internet cafes in the state earlier this year.
Cox said the prosecution will move forward with other cases, including those against former Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police President Nelson Cuba and former FOP Vice President Robbie Frietas.
First Coast News