Allied Veterans grandfathered in to number of gaming machines allowed

Jerry Bass, Robbie Freitas remain in jail, unable to prove bond money is clean

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Channel 4 on Monday obtained 25 electronic gaming permit applications from the city of Jacksonville, all of them signed by Allied Veterans of the World commander Jerry Bass, who identifies himself as president and director of the Internet cafes.

On the applications, it states that no more than 50 gaming machines are allowed at each location. But there were 118 machines at one site and more than 100 at several others.

A law written just last year limited the number of machines to 50, but because Allied Veterans of the World has been operating for years, it was grandfathered in and protected.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Jerry Bass, 62, who was national commander of Allied Veterans of the World and described by the FDLE as one of the four leaders of the conspiracy.
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Jerry Bass, 62, who was national commander of Allied Veterans of the World and described by the FDLE as one of the four leaders of the conspiracy.

Bass (pictured, right) and Robbie Freitas, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Jacksonville, remain in a Seminole County jail because their lawyers have been unable to convince a judge that the money they have put up for bond was obtained legally.

An attorney not connected with the case says he doesn't expect it will be much longer, though, before the two are released on bail.

"These gentlemen will continue to try to show the judge that the money they are providing has nothing to do with the criminal activity they've been charged with," attorney Gene Nichols said.

Nichols said the next step for both men will likely to be to ask family or friends for bond money. If they have stocks that they can prove aren't connected to crime, that may be another option.

"It's a tough task if all your funds are wrapped up in the alleged criminal activity," Nichols said. "It's not a tough task if you have help from family or friends, or have money clearly not involved in the criminal activity."

4 others sought in gambling operation

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office announced Monday it has established a toll free hotline for individuals who may have information about the operations and activities of the Florida gambling centers formerly operated by Allied Veterans of the World.

Gary Davis, Diane Davis, Michael Graham and Cary Hardee
Gary Davis, Diane Davis, Michael Graham and Cary Hardee

Anyone interested in speaking with authorities about the conspiracy is encouraged to call the Gambling Task Force Hotline at 855-411-0760. People inquiring about individual gambling winnings or losses should contact Allied Veterans of the World.

Investigators said that to date, 53 of the 57 conspirator suspects charged have been arrested. Investigators are seeking the public's help in finding four conspirators still at large (pictured above, left to right): Gary Davis, 68, of Hogansville, Ga.; Diane Davis, 65, of Hogansville, Ga.; Michael Graham, 41, of Little River, S.C. Graham may also be in Tabor City, N.C., or Murrells Inlet, S.C.; and Cary Hardee, 64, formerly of Ponce Inlet, Fla. Hardee may be in Tybee Island, Ga.

The four face charges of racketeer and influenced corrupt organizations; RICO conspiracy; manufacture, sale, possession of slot machines; lottery; keeping gambling houses; and money laundering. All charges are first-degree felonies. Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to contact the Seminole County Sheriff's Office at 407-665-6650.

Since last Tuesday, investigators said they have seized thousands of items of evidence, including more than 400 computers and servers, 1,169 boxes of paper records, and 59 vehicles and vessels. Digital forensic specialists have imaged 470 hard drives containing 160.4 terabytes of data, the equivalent of 156 million reams of paper. Additional evidence is in the process of being logged and transported, investigators said.

In addition to the 54 search warrants originally executed, six more search warrants were served at the following locations:

  • The Jacksonville safety deposit box of conspirator Fraternal Order of Police President Nelson Cuba, which contained $56,400 in cash and five million Iraqi dinars (equivalent to $4,300 in U.S. dollars);
  • The Jacksonville storage unit of Mathis and Murphy, P.A. which contained documents;
  • Three safety deposit boxes in Manning, S.C., owned by conspirator suspects Michael and Janis Ryles, which contained $212,507; and
  • The Fraternal Order of Police Foundation's office building in Jacksonville, which contained documents.

In total, $583,507 in U.S. currency has been seized, investigators said. They said they have also served seizure warrants on the bank accounts of many of the conspirators, locating a total of $100.6 million in those accounts.