Pam Bondi Appeals the Kelly Mathis Illegal Gambling Case to the Florida Supreme Court

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi wants the state’s supreme court to pass judgment on the 2013 conviction of an alleged racketeer. The Fifth District Court of Appeal dismissed an earlier guilty verdict back in October.

Lawyers working for the defendant claim the cyber-cafes at the heart of the case were legal at the time of the alleged offenses. Thost lawyers argue their client deserves a second trial, because a Florida jury never got a chance to hear their client’s side of the story.

Pam Bondi believes Kelly Mathis received a fair trial and a 3-judge appellate panel made a mistake in overturning the original verdict. She wants the Florida Supreme Court to restore the original verdict and send Kelly Mathis to prison for the next several years.

Kelly Mathis: Jacksonville Attorney

When it heard arguments, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the defendant, Kelly Mathis, should receive a new trial. Thus, the state attorney general wants the Florida Supreme Court to rule on the appeal, with the hope that it will overturn the appellate decision.

Kelly Mathis was a Jacksonville-based attorney who was accused of running an illegal gambling operation. Mathis was convicted of one count of racketeering, 51 counts of possessing an illegal slot machine, and 51 counts of conducting an illegal lottery.

Illegal Internet Gaming Cafes?

The gaming operations are alleged to have taken place at illegal Internet cafes. Those cafes claimed their gaming was tied to the city of St. Augustine charity, the Allied Veterans of the World. Kelly Mathis ran the charity, but the prosecutors believed the charity was a sham for Kelly Mathis’s enrichment.

The court of Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester found Kelly Mathis guilty of the charges, and Judge Lester subsequently sentenced Mathis to six years in prison. He allowed her to remain free on bail, pending her appal.

Daytona Appeals Court Decision

A three-judge appeals panel in Daytona voted unanimously to overturn the appeal. The judges criticized Judge Lester for not allowing evidence that Kelly Mathis and his lawyers wanted to present, which suggested cyber-cafes were legal in the state at the time.

Kelly Mathis planned to call several respected public officials, including state-level politicians and local Jacksonville officials, who would have testified that cyber-cafes were legal in the state of Florida at the time. Instead, Judge Lester threw out those witnesses, which the appeals judges felt corrupted the original trial.

The appeal ended in October with the case being overturned, but Pam Bondi thinks that was a miscarriage of justice. Thus, the Florida Department of Justice has asked for the Supreme Court to hear the case.

Nick Cox on the Case

Statewide Prosecutor Nick Cox told the Florida Record, “The Office Of Statewide Prosecution has filed a motion with the Florida Supreme Court asking them to accept jurisdiction over this matter and allow us to continue our appeal of the decision of the Fifth District Court Of Appeals.

We will be filing a brief within the next two weeks regarding the discretionary jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. As this litigation is ongoing, we cannot comment further at this time.

Michael Ufferman Statement

Michael Ufferman, an attorney for Kelly Mathis, defended the decision of the appellate court and said it was in keeping with other decisions throughout the state. He called for the Florida Supreme Court to reject Pam Bondi’s motion.

Ufferman said, “Regarding the state’s notice seeking to invoke the jurisdiction of the Florida Supreme Court, Mathis is hopeful that the Florida Supreme Court will decline to accept jurisdiction in this case.

Lee Lockett on a Second Trial

Lee Lockett, a Jacksonville-area lawyer also working for Kelly Mathis, said that a second trial is needed, so a jury can hear the other side of the argument.

Mr. Lockett reiterated that several respectable officials believed that cyber-cafes were legal in the state, and jury members should have that information when making a decision.

Lee Lockett stated, “That’s because of the Fifth District Court [Of Appeals’] ruling that upon re-trial, Mathis will be permitted to offer witnesses and evidence that his legal opinion was based on sound legal research as well as several consultations with governmental officials state-wide who also agreed that the business model in place was in fact legal.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com

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