SANFORD, Fla. -- Exhausted and emotional, Kelly Mathis walked out of the Seminole County Jail Friday night. He kissed his wife. Then proclaimed his innocence to the media.
"These are false charges," he said. "I am completely innocent of any crime."
He said his arrest Tuesday caught him by surprise. Investigators say he is the mastermind behind a $300 million illegal gambling scheme orchestrated by Allied Veterans of the World Inc. and Affiliates.
He denies the charges. He says he was nothing more than the organization's attorney.
Mathis's attorney, Mitch Stone, stopped his client from saying too much. Stone simply said, "We're happy that Mr. Mathis is out of jail so we can fight these charges. He's going to join our team and make sure that this indictment goes away."
Mathis and police union president Nelson Cuba are among several prominent people of Jacksonville accused of lining their own pockets with money meant for charity.
They both made bail Friday, after spending what Mathis described as an unpleasant three days in jail. "They tried to break me," he said. "They can't break me. They won't break me."
As a condition of their release, the suspects cannot leave the state of Florida. They had to surrender their passports. Their next court date is scheduled for May 7th.
Mathis's bond was reduced from $1 million to $200,000. Cuba's was reduced to $250,000 from $500,000.
We are still waiting to learn the status of two other major players, FOP Vice President Robbie Freitas and Allied Veterans Commander Jerry Bass. According to the Seminole County Clerk of Courts, they are still in jail.