Head of Allied Vets strikes plea deal in Internet gaming case



SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - In the wake of Seminole County's raid on dozens of Internet casinos, the head of Allied Veterans of the World struck a plea deal Friday in court.

Jerry Bass, the leader of the Allied Veterans charity, which is the organization that was supposed to receive proceeds from the Internet gaming centers, pleaded no contest to two counts of operating an illegal lottery, but he will not face any jail time or probation as a result of the deal.

So far, Bass is one of several people who will not serve jail time after taking plea deals.

"It became a situation of what can I do to put this behind me and go forward with my life," said Bass' attorney, Chuck Hobbs.

The state continues to assert that Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis was actually the head of the organization and the one who set up the illegal gaming organization and oversaw the millions of dollars that flowed through the centers.

Mathis' attorney is arguing a series of motions to try to get the case dismissed.

Meanwhile, Bass must cooperate with the state, but his attorney said it's doubtful that he has any information that will assist the state.

Bass's attorney said his client was under the impression that the statewide chain of Internet gaming centers were legal. Hobbs said Bass not only had legal opinions from Mathis, but powerful friends in the state government.

"Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, these are people they met with, did campaign contributions for, rallies for," said Hobbs.

Last week, Johnny Duncan, the national commander of Allied Vets, also pleaded no contest to charges of operating an illegal lottery.

Both men are now obligated to assist the state as it makes its case that Allied Vets was nothing more than a front for a high-tech and highly profitable gambling center that kept almost all of the profits, delivering very little to vets.

The state dropped charges against John Hessong, the national treasurer of Allied Vets.

Fifty-seven people were arrested in the initial sweep. So far, two have pleaded no contest with no jail time, and charges against four more have been dropped.

The state is still focused on Mathis, who it said was the mastermind. Mathis told Channel 9 on Friday that he has no intention of taking a deal, telling WFTV the state doesn't have a leg to stand on.