• Mathis trial expected to go to jury Thursday


    SANFORD, Fla. - Prosecutors wrapped up the closing arguments in the trial of Kelly Mathis Wednesday.

    The Jacksonville attorney is accused of helping to build a network of storefront casinos.

    Mathis faces more than 100 counts of racketeering and conspiracy charges. It's the same scandal that took down Florida's lieutenant governor.

    Attorneys for Mathis argued that the trial has ruined his reputation.

    Mathis' lawyers said his arrest and the trial have cost him a career he built in Jacksonville over the course of decades. And they said, after a month in court the state has failed to prove its case that Mathis has done anything wrong.

    "Mr. Mathis is the one man who's standing tall in the face of this adversity," said defense attorney Mitch Stone. "His reputation has been destroyed. His law firm has been decimated, his family humiliated. But through it all, he kept his head high."

    Prosecutors argued that Kelly Mathis ruined his own reputation by helping run a massive illegal gambling operation -- 50 storefront casinos carefully disguised as Internet cafes.

    The entire operation was supposedly a charity, but prosecutors said millions went not to veterans but the leaders of the operation, including Mathis.

    "He broke the law. He broke the law," said state prosecutor Lisa Acharekar.

    Mathis maintains he only served Allied Veterans of the World as a lawyer, but prosecutors said he was a key leader, involved in every detail as people spent paycheck after paycheck in the group's storefronts, not buying Internet access, but pouring money into casino-style machines that cost some customers everything they had.

    "He said he went back every day, from April 2012 to March 2013, because he wanted to win back the money that he lost. And he went back," Acharekar said, describing one customer.

    The state will have a chance to make a rebuttal to the defense's closing arguments Thursday morning, then this case will go to the jury.

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    Mathis trial expected to go to jury Thursday