JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The prominent Jacksonville attorney accused of masterminding what prosecutors call a $300 million gambling ring says he was only paid hourly for his work for Allied Veterans of the World, and that he made sure they didn't violate any gambling laws.
Kelly Mathis is one of nearly 60 people charged in Seminole County in connection with Allied Veterans.
Mathis spoke with the Associated Press, saying prosecutors are trying to force a connection between him and the others charged.
Mathis, a former president of the Jacksonville Bar Association, is out of jail on charges of racketeering, money laundering and other charges.
He now says his arrest has ruined his life and damaged his law career. When asked about his past several days, he responded, "Lots of prayer."
Mathis said Johnny Duncan and Jerry Bass, the two men who once owned Allied Veterans of the World, sought his legal advice about seven years ago and he took the men and their company on as clients.
The company, Allied Veterans, eventually grew to include 49 internet cafes complete with computerized slot machine-styles.
At issue is the legality of the games. State prosecutors say they amounted to little more than gambling. Mathis said he spent a lot of time researching the legality of the internet cafes.
"I spent months researching this in-depth, of sweepstakes law, gambling law, to make sure they didn't violate any of the gambling laws," Mathis said.
In his interview, Mathis said he researched whether Internet sweepstakes cafes were legal in Florida and found they were.
Another issue is that the company ran as a charity.
Prosecutors say that only 2 percent of the nearly $300 million earned by Allied Veterans went to charity.
Mathis says he knew nothing about the charity angle of the business and only advised the company about laws regarding philanthropy.
He said prosecutors are trying to force a connection between him and the operations of the business.
The relationship they've got is that I was the registered agent," Mathis said. "But what they fail to realize is that's no relationship at all."
Mathis said he has only been paid his hourly fee for his work with Allied Veterans.
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