SANFORD, Fla. - Their attorneys have already filed their not guilty pleas on their behalves, but Thursday afternoon, suspects in the Allied Veterans case will appear in court themselves.
A pretrial hearing was held Monday afternoon in a Seminole County courtroom for Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police leaders Nelson Cuba and Robbie Freitas, Allied Veterans of the World commander Jerry Bass and Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis.
Three weeks ago, Mathis waived his right to appear in court in person. His attorney, Mitch Stone, entered a not guilty plea for him. Stone says since then they've been working on his case and they're ready to fight the charges in court.
"He's doing fine. We're working toward proving that he is not guilty of any offense and he's helping in that effort," Stone said. "He's a good lawyer and he knows the law and he's been assisting in that effort."
The Jacksonville lawyer has been labeled as the mastermind behind the Internet cafe scheme that operated as Allied Veterans of the World.
On Thursday, the judge set a date for next Friday to hammer out a schedule for the next few months for defendants who have not waived their right to a speedy trial.
One of those defendants is Mathis. He didn't take the stand Thursday but was an observer as his attorney spoke with the judge about his court date schedule going forward.
"We didn't expect more than kind of just a case management conference today, where we find out exactly what the judge was anticipating as far as the rest of our summer goes," Stone said. "We would like a trial as quickly as possible, and so he's got to accommodate us, and that means making time in his schedule. I'm sure this is not Judge Lester's only case."
Stone said he is still combing through a lot of the discovery materials and needs to take depositions and has several motions prepared, some of which he hopes will be heard Thursday.
"Some of the motions may not be contested, some may," Stone said. "The judge may be able to handle them pretty quickly without having to deal with a whole lot of discussion on the record but the more important motion is the motion to dismiss, and things of that nature will obviously require full day's hearings."
Stone filed a motion to dismiss the charges against Mathis, and a hearing is already scheduled for that on June 25.
"Essentially, all we're talking about is the sufficiency of the pleadings, legal issues pertaining to the claims made in the charging docket, things of that nature," Stone said.
If Mathis' case were to go to trial, it would happen after that motion to dismiss is heard on June 25. It would be by September.
Also happening Thursday was a Garcia hearing. There are at least 40 lawyers representing the more than 50 defendants in this national racketeering case, some representing more than one person involved, and they'll have to prove to the judge there's no conflict of interest.
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