SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — Before jurors get the case, defense attorneys planned to ask a judge Tuesday to throw out remaining charges against a Jacksonville attorney accused of helping build up a network of storefront casinos under the guise of a veteran's charity.
Judge Kenneth Lester last week threw out about 50 money laundering counts at attorney Kelly Mathis' trial. The Jacksonville still faces more than 100 counts of illegal gambling, possessing slot machines and racketeering.
He has pleaded not guilty, claiming he merely gave legal advice to the Allied Veterans of the World affiliates. Closing arguments are set for Wednesday, and six jurors could begin deliberations soon afterward.
Prosecutors on Tuesday also planned to call rebuttal witnesses and argue over jury instructions with defense attorneys.
The arrest of Mathis and 56 other defendants earlier this year caused the Florida Legislature to ban Internet cafes and led to the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. Carroll had worked as a consultant for Allied Veterans. She wasn't charged with any crime and has denied any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors claim Mathis and his associates built up the network of casinos by claiming they were businesses where customers could buy Internet time, when in reality most customers played slot machine games on computers and didn't use the Internet. Even though the Internet cafes were being operated under the aegis of Allied Veterans of the World, very little of the $300 million the Allied Veteran affiliates earned actually went to veterans, prosecutors allege.
Mathis' attorneys say the network of Internet cafes was legal.
"We have proven over and over and over again ... that Mr. Mathis was a lawyer for an organization and he was practicing law," said Mitch Stone, a defense attorney for Mathis.
Prosecutors aren't commenting on the case for the duration of the trial.
Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys called as witnesses some of Mathis' key co-defendants who had reached deals with prosecutors: former Allied Veterans of the World leaders Johnny Duncan and Jerry Bass, as well as Chase Burns, who operated a company that made software for computers at the dozens of Allied Veterans centers around Florida.
Defense attorneys didn't want to jeopardize their plea agreements by calling them to testify, Stone said.