SANFORD, Fla. -- One by one, they stood before a judge. FOP President Nelson Cuba and FOP Vice President Robbie Frietas, along with the accused ringleaders in this case, Allied Veterans Commander Jerry Bass and local attorney Kelly Mathis.
"Mathis is not a ringleader," said his attorney Mitch Stone. "Mathis was the lawyer for organizations who were trying to establish how to legally conduct business."
Many of the suspects are prominent people from Jacksonville. And all of them are charged in a what investigators are calling $300 million money-laundering scheme, stemming from 49 Internet cafes operated by the non-profit organization, Allied Veterans of the World.
Investigators say those Internet cafes were nothing more than illegal gambling centers. Stone says that's a lie.
"If you're going to arrest Kelly Mathis and this organization then you need to look at McDonald's. You need to look at Pepsi, every other organization and every other business that's done sweepstakes."
Stone, and several other attorneys, left court angry Thursday. "The law specifically says that within 24 hours of arrest, somebody has the right to a meaningful hearing. That did not happen again today."
Mathis, Bass, Cuba, and Frietas sat in the same courtroom Wednesday, waiting to see if they'd be granted bond. The judge continued their cases until Thursday, which amounted to the suspects making two first appearances in court. The judge then refused to allow attorneys to make any arguments.
Mark Najame, the same attorney who represents Tiger Woods, is also representing the owners of a couple of internet cafes investigators say acted as fronts for illegal gambling. He made a stink, calling the proceedings unfair.
"I've been in a lot of big cases around here," said Najame. "Some of the biggest cases around, I've never seen it handled this way."
Stone has filed an appeal, and he and Mathis will be back in court Friday morning, trying to get Mathis out of jail. "A $1 million is tantamount to no bond."
Bond was set at $1 million for both Mathis and Bass. It was set at $500,000 for Cuba and Frietas.
But the judge put what's called a Nebbia hold on them, meaning the suspects have to prove the money they use to get out of jail isn't dirty.