JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A former Jacksonville attorney and once counsel for Allied Veterans of the World spoke Wednesday night about a case that changed his life.
Kelly Mathis was convicted of being the mastermind of what was described as a $300 million gambling ring operated through dozens of internet cafes operated by Allied Veterans of the World. His conviction was later overturned.
"So I'm sitting there in jail. They take me down to Seminole County and they put me in solitary confinement with surveillance cameras and lights 24 hours a day," Mathis said. "I don't know if they were afraid of me or somebody else."
Mathis spoke to his peers about how the ordeal changed his life at the Bar Association dinner at the Wells Fargo Center.
"I'm here to debunk that theory, that Mathis is no mastermind of anything," Mathis said. "You've got the wrong guy here. I had a guy from high school call and said I could've told them that's not you. That couldn't be you."
Mathis, once one of Jacksonville's highest-profile attorneys, was one of 57 people arrested in 2013 in a crackdown on internet cafes across the state.
He was the only one to go to trial in the 2013 Allied Veterans of the World case, but his conviction was overturned in 2016.
"I don't know if y'all remember and I need to get a copy of it at some point, but they had several billboards they were doing at this press conference, but the one that haunted me the most was a great big picture of me in a round circle and arrows going off of it, about 60 plus arrows with Corporation X, Corporation Y, Allied Veterans, Allied Veterans Affiliate, all pointing to me and I'm thinking, what's that about?" Mathis said.
Mathis contended throughout the case he was not involved in the operation of the business. He only served as the lawyer for Allied Veterans.
"I gave information packets to those local officials that told what my clients did. That's why I was giving a complete explanation, nothing to hide," Mathis said.
Mathis said he still doesn't know why he and his clients were targeted by prosecutors.
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