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Prominent leader of Allied Veterans gets more time to mull plea

Updated:

Allied Veterans

Several leaders of an alleged $300 million gambling racketeering operation with Allied Veterans of the World appeared in court on Wednesday in Seminole County.

Investigators raided Internet casino sites across the state in March, seizing more than $100 million in assets and arresting 57 people on charges ranging from racketeering to money laundering.

The state maintains the group was calling itself a charity but keeping 98 percent of profits for itself.

Channel 9 learned Wednesday that former national Allied Veterans Commander Johnny Duncan pleaded no contest to one count of money laundering and four counts of maintaining an illegal lottery. Each charge is considered a third-degree felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison.

As part of the plea, Duncan will receive probation and no jail time, according to Channel 9's Christopher Heath. Sentencing is set for Nov. 25 at 8:30 a.m.

The group's most prominent leader, Jerry Bass, and Mike Hessong were granted a delay to enter pleas. Both were given until Aug. 23 at 9:30 a.m. to reach a decision.

Another key defendant, Scott Pruitt, had all charges dropped and the state said it will not prosecute him.

Kelly Mathis, the man at the center of the racketeering and money-laundering case, said he wants a speedy trial.

The case is moving forward quickly because 50 of the accused have waived their right to a speedy trial.

Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll announced her resignation earlier this year, a day after being questioned by authorities investigating Allied Veterans, a company she once represented.