SANFORD, Fla. -- Kelly Mathis is a prominent Jacksonville attorney who has found himself on the wrong side of the law.
"He's a lawyer and he gamed the legal system," said state prosecutor Nick Cox.
In opening statements Thursday, Cox said it was Mathis' idea to bring together a gaming company and a veterans charity to skirt state laws by allowing gambling in Internet cafes.
Cox said if customers "ever said the term bet, try would be corrected. And they would say no, no, no. It was a reveal."
Mathis' defense attorney, Mitch Stone, said they were corrected because they weren't making a bet. Customers at the Internet cafes were buying Internet time. They were participating in a sweepstakes, a contest to promote their business.
"Like the Pepsi bottle cap. Like the McDonald's Monopoly, Like Publishers Clearing House," said Stone.
Stone said Mathis was hired to find out if the games being played at the Internet cafes were legal. He said Mathis had done extensive research for years to make sure the cafes followed the letter of the law.
The problem is, state and local agencies can't agree on what the law actually says.
Stone said, "The attorney general opinion did not say this is illegal. The attorney general opinion said we don't know."
So now it's up to a jury to decide. Is Kelly Mathis the mastermind behind a $300 million gambling scam? Or a good lawyer just doing his job?
Action News has told you how only a fraction of the millions made actually went to the veterans. It's not an issue at the trial. No one is charged with shortchanging the charity. This is about illegal gambling.
Mathis was one of 57 people arrested in March after a series of raids that spanned several counties. Former Allied Vets Cmdr. Jerry Bass was also arrested.
Also arrested was the former president and vice president of Jacksonville's Fraternal Order of Police, Nelson Cuba and Robbie Freitas.
Bass pleaded no contest to two felony counts of operating a lottery. Nearly 200 other charges were dropped. In exchange for the plea, he will serve no prison time and no probation. He will have to pay court costs and fines.
Cuba and Freitas waived their right to a speedy trial and will face a judge at a later date.
Charges against dozens of other suspects have been dropped all together.
Mathis has refused to take a deal. He says he's confident a jury will find him not guilty.