JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Former Allied Veterans of the World commander Jerry Bass pleaded no contest Friday to two counts of operating an illegal lottery in connection with an Internet cafe money laundering and racketeering scheme that was exposed by the state earlier this year.
Both counts carried a five-year maximum sentence and up to a $5,000 fine, but Bass will face neither of those.
As a part of the plea agreement, Bass, who was facing more than 200 counts, will have adjudication withheld, will receive credit for 15 days of time served and will serve no jail further time or probation. He will also cooperate and serve as a witness in trials of other defendants in the Internet cafe scandal and pay court costs.
Bass' sentencing is set for 8:30 a.m. Nov. 25 in Sanford.
"I think there's always the relief that you're not going to be a convicted felon," Bass' attorney Chuck Hobbs said. "There is relief you're not going to serve any jail or prison time, but also I think that he still believes that what he did was legal."
Hobbs said his client will more than likely serve as a witness for the state as well as the defense if other defendants involved go to trial.
"I think he can talk about what they have done over the course of the last four or five years, why they believed it was legal, also what communications may have occurred amongst the leadership of this organization," Hobbs said.
John Hessong, the operator of an Internet cafe in Hilliard, reached a plea deal with the state and will enter a pretrial intervention program.
Meanwhile, Kelly Mathis (pictured, right), a Jacksonville attorney who prosecutors say was the mastermind of the scheme the state now considers an illegal gambling operation, said the deals Bass and several others worked out with the state aren't influencing him.
Mathis is charged with racketeering and dozens of other offenses.
"It is a pretty good deal for him," Mathis said. "I'm not interested in any deal. I'm not interested in even discussing any deal."
In court, his attorney, Mitch Stone, pushed the judge to dismiss his case. He's also asking for court proceedings to be moved to Duval County.
As the judge makes that decision, Mathis is remaining confident he'll move past this without any deals or charges.
"I'll have to start rebuilding, time to start rebuilding my law firm and my life after the dismissal, or I'll have to wait and do it after the jury acquits me," Mathis said.
Stone said he expects to be back in court Monday arguing more motions.
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