A Jacksonville attorney who was convicted earlier this month of using a veterans' organization as a front for a $300 million gambling operation is asking for a new trial.
Kelly Mathis filed the motion for a new trial Monday. He was convicted earlier this month of 103 out of 104 counts, including possessing slot machines, helping operate a lottery and racketeering, and could face dozens of years in prison when he is sentenced next February.
Mathis served as an attorney for Allied Veterans of the World, which operated almost 50 Internet cafes throughout Florida until his arrest earlier this year along with 56 other defendants. Those arrests led to the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who had worked as a consultant for Allied Veterans, and also caused the Florida Legislature to ban Internet cafes earlier this year.
Mathis was the first of the defendant to go on trial. About half of the 57 defendants have reached some kind of agreement with prosecutors. The rest -- including two Jacksonville police officers who were leaders of the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police -- have yet to have their cases resolved.
Mathis said in the motion for a new trial that he was restricted from presenting evidence that his legal advice was sound and that local governments had passed ordinances regulating Internet cafes. Those restrictions prevented him from showing the Internet cafes weren't illegal at the time.
"Throughout the trial, however, the state continued to suggest that the reason for guilt was Mathis' alleged failure as a lawyer, not his role as a member of the organization," the motion said. "If allowed to stand, this result will prevent lawyers from giving legal advice to their clients should the possibility exist that a single one of Florida's 67 sheriffs might disagree with that legal advice years after it was given."