Posted Sep 16, 2013 03:14 pm CDT
Florida lawyer Kelly Mathis is expressing confidence in advance of his trial beginning today for his role in an alleged charity gambling operation.
Mathis is the first co-defendant associated with Allied Veterans of the World to face trial, report the Associated Press and the Florida Times-Union. “Absolutely, I will be found not guilty,” Mathis told AP.
Prosecutors say Mathis was the mastermind of a charity scheme to raise money through Internet cafés that allowed people to gamble on computers, the AP story says. Customers who bought prepaid cards, supposedly to browse the Internet, could play computer games such as “Captain Cash” and “Lucky Shamrocks.” Winners would get more money on their prepaid card, which could be used to play more games or could be turned in for cash.
Prosecutors say Allied Veterans spent about 2 percent of its proceeds on charitable works, and Mathis earned about $6 million for his role.
Mathis claims the computer games were legal sweepstakes that are no different than a McDonald’s scratch-off ticket. His lawyer, Mitch Stone, says Mathis is being prosecuted for giving legal advice. The charges against Mathis include racketeering and money laundering.
Fifty-seven people were arrested in the Allied Veterans operation. Prosecutors have dropped charges against 15 people and reached plea deals with seven others, including three once described as among the leaders of the operation, the Orlando Sentinel says.
Stone said prosecutors are offering plea deals without jail time, an indication that their case is weak, according to the Sentinel.
ABAJournal.com: “Lawyer accused of masterminding $300M gambling scheme says he did nothing wrong”
ABAJournal.com: “Veterans charity used for lawyer’s $300M online gambling scheme, say officials”