$300M strip mall casino operation trial wraps up



SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - After nearly four weeks of trial, Kelly Mathis looked on Thursday as prosecutors wrapped up, telling jurors the Jacksonville attorney cashed in on a massive illegal gambling operation.

"Cha-Ching! At least a million and a half (dollars) a year for that law firm," prosecutor Nick Cox said.

They allege Mathis is the mastermind behind the "Allied Veterans of the World" operation involving more than 50 storefront casinos that were veiled under the guise of internet cafes, many of them in central Florida.

"The Internet time was a sham, a complete sham," Cox said.

Thursday's rebuttal came after the defense argued late Wednesday that Mathis was just an attorney for Allied Veterans who advised the group on how to run a legal sweepstakes, similar to a McDonald's scratch-off game.

"You can indeed run a sweepstakes electronically on a computer, using any kind of imagery you want. As long as it's really a sweepstakes," defense attorney Mitch Stone said.

Prosecutors followed up saying this was clearly gambling, and Mathis knew it.

He's facing more than 100 criminal counts related to racketeering and conspiracy in what investigators say was a $300 million gambling operation.

"Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's duck," Cox said.

If Mathis is convicted, he could face up to 320 years in prison.

The jury began deliberations Thursday. They were sent home late Thursday afternoon and will return Friday morning to resume deliberations.