Allied Veterans of the World

Kelly Mathis, Attorney Convicted In Allied Veterans Case, Launches $50M Lawsuit

Mar 7, 2019
Mathis headshot
Jacksonville Daily Record

Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court against officials of the Seminole County Sheriff's Department, former state Attorney General Pam Bondi and a member of her staff.

  Friday on “First Coast Connect” it was our weekly Media Roundtable with Florida Time-Union reporter Andrew Pantazi, WJCT business analyst John Burr and WJCT reporter Ryan Benk. We spoke with Dee Quaranta, president of Northeast Florida Women Veterans and singer-songwriter Kim Paige performed live in our studio.   

On Wednesday’s First Coast Connect we discussed the See the Girl Summit being held Thursday and Friday at the Jessie Ball duPont Center with Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center CEO Lawanda Ravoira and Roy Miller, president of the Tallahassee-based Children’s Campaign.

We were also joined by attorneys Kelly Mathis and Mitch Stone.

Host Melissa Ross also welcomed Steffani Fletcher, the executive director of Hope at Hand about their mission that provides art and poetry therapy to at-risk youth. Then Chris Thomas of the Chris Thomas Band joined the show to talk about his new CD and two shows being held this week. 


Gage Skidmore via Flickr

The Florida Commission on Ethics has found probable cause that former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll did not properly report income from consulting work that led to her 2013 resignation, but it cleared Carroll of potentially more-serious allegations regarding her dealings with Allied Veterans of the World.

In response, Carroll said the decision vindicated her, and she called again for Gov. Rick Scott to publicly apologize for pushing her out of office in the wake of an illegal gambling probe.

The former vice president of the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police, Robert Freitas pleaded guilty Tuesday for his role with a veterans' organization that prosecutors say was a front for a $300 million gambling operation.

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT

Only about eight months ago, Jacksonville's Five Star Veterans Center didn’t know from one day to the next whether it's doors would remain open.

Today, not only is the facility for homeless military veterans still open, it’s getting a facelift thanks to about 100 local volunteers and big box hardware retailer The Home Depot.

CEO Len Loving was amazed on Thursday as volunteers began renovations.

"They’re all over the place like ants, outside doing the landscaping as well as doing the inside," he said.

The six member jury deciding the fate of Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis will return to deliberations today. Mathis was the lawyer for Allied Veterans of the World.

He’s accused of helping the charity group set up and run a statewide network of internet cafes that were really illegal gambling sites.

News4Jax’s Kumasi Aaron is in Sanford, covering the trial.  She says both the prosecution and the defense are optimistic about their chances.

Anger growing over a lack of school librarians, jurors expected to begin Allied Veterans deliberations, and some fort crashing St. Augustine tourists are in headlines this morning.

FSCJ gets a new president, no time limit given for Mathis trial arguments, and Stand Your Ground revisions getting first legislative approval are in headlines this morning.

The future suddenly looks a lot brighter for the Five STAR Veterans Center in Jacksonville.  After months of waiting, the center today received a signed letter from the state of Florida saying its land and its bank accounts are safe from seizure.

The center had been in danger of closing its doors because it couldn’t raise the money it needed to keep going.  The problem was its early affiliation with the Allied Veterans of the World whose internet cafes were shut down for alleged illegal online gambling. 

Welcome to WJCT First Read (T.G.I.F. edition), your daily weekday morning round-up of stories from the First Coast, around Florida, and across the country. We'll also preview some of WJCT's upcoming news programming.

Welcome to WJCT First Read, your daily weekday morning round-up of stories from the First Coast, around Florida, and across the country. We'll also preview some of WJCT's upcoming news programming.

Chartrand speaks on Stewart appointment: Florida State Board of Education Chair Gary Chartrand says the experience of newly appointed Education Commissioner Pam Stewart as a two-time interim commissioner has prepared her to take the title permanently.

Welcome to WJCT First Read, your daily weekday morning round-up of stories from the First Coast, around Florida, and across the country. We'll also preview some of WJCT's upcoming news programming.

Allied Veterans lawyer trial begins: Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis, charged as the "mastermind" in the Allied Veterans of the World gambling ring case, goes on trial today.

Florida’s racketeering case against the Allied Veterans of the World goes to trial in a little over a month. One defense attorney sees the recent withdrawal of the state’s lone gambling expert as a cause for optimism. 

Jacksonville-based Allied Veterans of the World operated dozens of internet cafes across the state, until the day federal and state investigators closed 49 of them for alleged illegal gambling.

The witness list filed by Kelly Mathis, the Jacksonville attorney accused of being behind what police say was a $300 million gambling operation posing as a charity, includes several state and local leaders.

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT

The Jacksonville shelter for homeless military veterans has a new name, a new board of directors and, the shelter hopes, a new lease on life.

The Allied Veterans Center on Atlantic Boulevard is now the 5 Star Veterans Center.

According to Col. (Ret.) Len Loving, the '5' represents the five branches of the U.S. military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

"The word 'star'", he says, "stands for service members-transition-and-reintegration."

And although money remains a problem, Loving says, the financial picture has grown a little brighter.

Jennifer Carroll has a new job. The former lieutenant governor has accepted a position as a senior adviser for Global Digital Solutions, which manufactures military weapons, according to WOKV Jacksonville. She's expected to become president and COO of the company after it merges with Airtronic USA.

In March, Carroll abruptly resigned from her post as second-in-command to Governor Rick Scott over her involvement with a charity that's accused of operating an illegal gambling ring. She has not been charged with any crime.

Kevin Meerschaert

The following is a reporter's log from WJCT senior staff reporter Kevin Meerschaert, detailing his experience visiting two internet cafes after Governor Rick Scott signed a bill to close those establishments in the state.

Only a few minutes after news got out that Governor Rick Scott had signed the bill, about a half dozen women were walking out of the Hardwired Internet Cafe on the Southbank Riverwalk in Downtown Jacksonville. One turned and locked the door. The sign that said the cafe was open 24-hours a day/7 days a week remained. 

Justin Cormack

    State Senator John Thrasher says he expects a bill to ban Internet cafes in Florida

will sail through to passage.

Thrasher had introduced a bill that would have placed a moratorium on new cafes, but on the heels of the Allied Veterans of the World arrests he says the legislature should take stronger action.

Thrasher’s moratorium bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Gaming Committee on Monday. He expects a move to close all the cafes will be discussed at that meeting.  

How Do Internet Cafes Work?

Mar 14, 2013
Florida Times-Union

A sweepstakes café must have 3 things to be illegal: price, chance, and consideration. Consideration means that they buy directly into the game as you would when buying a lottery ticket. With an internet café, the patrons are buying internet “time” instead. They use the time to redeem points and “cash out” at the end of their session.

Kevin Meerschaert

    Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford says the arrests of Fraternal Order of Police President Nelson Cuba and Vice-President Robbie Freitas shows no one in his department is above the law.

 Rutherford told reporters on Wednesday about the two officers’ roles in the Allied Veterans of the World conspiracy.

Law enforcement officials say Cuba and Freitas received more than 500-thousand dollars through a shell corporation during an 18-month period.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement has released more information about what they're calling Operation Reveal The Deal: 

Channel 4 News/WJXT

Fraternal Order of Police President Nelson Cuba is among the local figures arrested as part of a multi-state gambling investigation into the Allied Veterans of the World and its internet cafes.

Cuba and his second-in-command, Robbie Freitas have reportedly been arrested on racketeering charges. Three executives with Allied Veterans were also arrested including the head of the organization, Jerry Bass, executive Mike Davis, and attorney Kelly Mathis.

According to Federal documents, the charges stem from an investigation into how much money Allied Veterans gave to charity. The organization claimed their facilities were fundraising centers,  but the investigators say they were Internet casinos operating in violation of Florida’s gambling laws. While Allied Veterans said it was donating 70% or more of its proceeds to charity, authorities say they really only gave about 2% of  profits to veterans’ causes.

The investigation is being conducted by the IRS and the United States Secret Service, with help from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and several local agencies in the state including the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

They received search warrants for 51 Allied Veterans properties in Florida including 8 in Duval County, 2 in Nassau County and 1 each in Flagler, Clay, Putnam and St. Johns counties.

The local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement saying that the arrests of its top leaders were related to the mens’ private business and unrelated to their duties with the F-O-P.