JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Authorities in Jacksonville and Orlando announced charges against 57 people in what's being called an organized $300 million conspiracy, orchestrated by Allied Veterans of the World.
It's being called "Operation Reveal the Deal," and its led to the arrest of several local high profile leaders, and to the resignation of Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll for having ties to one of the internet cafes under investigation.
Investigators say it involved a sophisticated racketeering and money laundering scheme, stemming from 49 illegal gambling centers that operated under the guise of "internet cafes."
Federal, state and local investigators say Allied Veterans of the World claimed to be a charitable organization for veterans. But authorities say, of the $300 million it generated, only 2-percent went to charitable groups.
Several local prominent names have been arrested as part of the investigation, including FOP President Nelson Cuba, FOP Vice President Robbie Freitas, National Commander of Allied Veterans of America Jerry Bass, and Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis.
Investigators called Mathis, 49, and Bass, 62, two of the four masterminds of the operation, along with Johnny Duncan,62, of South Carolina, and Chase Burns, 37, of Oklahoma. The four, according to investigators, received a combined more than $90 million in proceeds from the scheme. They were charged with Racketeer and Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO); RICO Conspiracy; manufacture, sale, possession of slot machines; lottery; keeping gambling houses; and money laundering.
Some of the money went to buy high-end assets like boats, condos, and a Maserati.
Investigators say Cuba, 48, and Freitas, 47, received more than $500,000 through a shell corporation during an 18-month period. Authorities say the two withdrew an amount of cash on a weekly basis to avoid having to report it. The two FOP leaders face an additional money laundering charge of structuring transactions to evade reporting or registration requirements.
The charges are all first-degree felonies. Cuba, Freitas, Mathis, and 12 other suspects are being held at the Seminole County Jail without bond. Mathis' attorney told a judge today the suspects should be released on bond because they're not flight risks and he can prove it.
Mathis, Cuba and Freitas are among thirteen people from Northeast Florida who are behind bars. Police also arrested Tamara Lynn Gross, 47, of Jacksonville; Moses Aaron Ramos, 36, of Saint Augustine; Conrad Harold Rowe, 62, of Atlantic Beach; Mazen Georgeus Salloum, 53, of Jacksonville; Zaher Salloum, 42, of St. Johns County; Salim Saloum, 48, of Jacksonville; Samer George Saloum, 47, of Jacksonville; and Jonathan Taylor Shave, 45, of Fernandina Beach.
Eight people are not yet in custody.