SANFORD, Fla. - An attorney convicted of leading a $300 million gambling ring that used a veterans charity as a front has been sentenced to
six years in prison.
Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis received the sentence Wednesday after a Florida judge listened to character witnesses describe the lawyer as a man of integrity who loved his family.
Mathis' attorneys argued that he should be spared prison given he only provided legal advice to Allied Veterans of America.
statewide prosecutor Nick Cox said Mathis deserved prison for engaging in deception. Cox said Mathis was responsible for marrying the gambling operation with the veterans charity.
Mathis was convicted last year of 103 counts of racketeering, possessing slot machines and other charges.
Mathis wiped away the tears Wednesday as he listened to his wife read letters from their daughters, begging a Seminole County judge not to send their father to prison.
Mathis's wife was joined by almost a dozen Jacksonville attorneys, each taking the stand to try
to keep the man convicted by the state of orchestrating a multimillion- dollar illegal gambling operation under the guise of a charity , out of prison.
Even though a report from the Department of Corrections recommended two years of home confinement, Cox pushed for a minimum of five and a half years, saying Mathis should have known what he was doing was potentially illegal, setting up casinos across the state.
"To take advantage of it, in the manner he did, he wasn't a lawyer, judge, this was a crime," said Cox.
The judge is allowing Mathis to remain free pending the outcome of his appeal, which may not be heard until next year.
9 Investigates first exposed the Allied Veterans strip mall casinos more than two years ago.
A raid last year by the state forced the resignation of Florida's lieutenant governor.