Florida Supreme Court reinstates internet cafe lawyer

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on Monday reinstated to the practice of law Kelly Mathis, the prominent Jacksonville attorney who faced criminal charges stemming from his representation of a major player in the Internet cafe industry.

Justices unanimously reinstated Mathis, whose 2013 convictions on racketeering and gambling-related charges were overturned in October 2016 by the 5th District Court of Appeal.

Prosecutors dropped the case in March. Mathis, a former Jacksonville Bar Association president, was convicted in Seminole County on 103 charges related to his work for the group Allied Veterans of the World, which operated dozens of internet cafes that were raided and shut down because of illegal gambling. Internet cafes offered electronic games that authorities said were akin to slot machines.

The appeals court found that a Seminole County judge improperly prevented Mathis from providing evidence that could have refuted allegations that he helped the gambling operation.

"The state's persistent trial theme involved repeatedly arguing that appellant (Mathis) knowingly assisted Allied Veterans in operating an illegal sweepstakes," the appeals court ruling said. "Yet, the testimony established that appellant diligently researched the legal issues before concluding that Florida law did not prohibit internet cafes."


News Service of Florida