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Veterans Charity Scandal: Verdict watch in Kelly Mathis trial

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Updated: 10/11/2013 12:28 pm
SANFORD, Fla. -- The Kelly Mathis case is now in the hands of a jury. The Jacksonville attorney the accused mastermind of a multi-million dollar illegal gambling scheme that revolved around Internet cafes.

Over the past three weeks, the state has painted Mathis to be a money-hungry mob boss who used his knowledge of the law to dupe the system.

State prosecutor Nick Cox said, "That's what so aggravating to me here, is that you have somebody who was totally gaming the system. And was totally manipulating to the financial benefit of himself and others."

Mathis's defense team said their client was nothing more than an attorney hired to research gaming laws for Allied Veterans of the World, and to make sure their Internet cafes were on the up and up.

They said customers were not gambling. They were playing sweepstakes games by rules outlined by Florida law. Problem is, they say the law isn't crystal clear.

Defense attorney Lee Lockett said, "It's a complicated situation for even judges and lawyers to understand."

Mathis was one of 57 people arrested in March after the state raided and closed dozens of Allied Vets Internet cafes. The cafes were selling Internet time, which made customers eligible to play the sweepstakes games, which resembled slot machines.

The state says the sale of Internet time was just a ploy to legitimize its illegal gambling operation, because customers weren't actually using it.

Mathis faces several charges, including racketeering and conspiracy. If convicted of all counts, he faces anywhere from 7.5 years to 320 years, if forced to serve maximum sentences consecutively.

While $300 million were made in the Allied Vets Internet cafes in four years, the state alleges only about 2 percent of its earnings actually benefited the veterans charity.

Deliberations resume at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
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RiverRat - 10/11/2013 12:51 PM
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This is a tough case for the jury. They know he is a scum bag but is he a criminal scum bag?
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