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White-Collar Crime

Lawyer accused of masterminding $300M gambling scheme says he did nothing wrong

Posted Mar 21, 2013 1:25 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A prominent Florida lawyer accused of masterminding a $300 million gambling scheme under the guise of a veterans charity says he has done nothing wrong and simply advised his client about applicable law.

Kelly Mathis, who also served in a standard role for a lawyer, as a registered agent for some of his client's companies, is thought of as a down-to-earth, hardworking attorney and was formerly president of the local bar association. In a Wednesday interview in his lawyer's office, the Vanderbilt University law grad said prosecutors who contend the Internet sweepstakes gambling cafes were not legal under state law are "trying to force a connection" between his legal work and the alleged criminal conduct when none exists, the Associated Press reports.

Mathis says he did months of in-depth research before concluding that the plan by his clients—Jerry Bass and Johnny Duncan and their Allied Veterans of the World company—to operate the cafes was legal.

He said he was paid standard legal fees for the work he did, and did not get a cut of the profits from Allied Veterans, which authorities contend provided only about 2 percent of what it brought in to causes benefiting veterans. Seminole County, he contends, has targeted him because he sued over its opposing stance on Internet gambling cafes.

"The law is filled with ambiguities. The lawyer's job is to come up with a legal opinion to advocate for that position," Mathis told the AP. "Even right now in the state of Florida, there is no appellate court opinion. There is no definitive black-and-white answer. I and my clients were complying with the law."

Related coverage:

Associated Press: "Fla. House ready to ban Internet cafes"

Updated at 2:32 p.m. to link to Associated Press article.

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