Kelly Mathis speaks about dropped charges: 'It's over'

Mathis free from 103 gambling charges

Attorney Kelly Mathis said he didn't know his legal battle would take four years, but it's finally complete.

The former Jacksonville Bar Association president faced a 2013 arrest, jury conviction, four days in jail, and several levels of appeal over his legal representation of a controversial organization.

The non-profit organization, Allied Veterans of the World, came under fire in 2013 when 57 of its representatives and operators were arrested on charges of illegal gambling, operation of a lottery, slot machines, and racketeering.

The organization operated 50 Internet gaming cafes in Florida. All 50 were shut down by police in a gambling bust spearheaded by Seminole County law enforcement. While many of those arrested settled their cases with the government in exchange for no jail time and the release of their frozen assets, Mathis says he refused.

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"Four years ago I remember walking out of the Seminole County jail feeling frustrated, outraged." said Mathis. "I promised to you then that I would fight until I was proven innocent, and I would continue fighting until my innocence was established."

Mathis and his attorney Mitch Stone believe that day has come in the form of the Florida Attorney General's Office decision to not seek a retrial.

Mathis' license to practice law was suspended pending the gambling charges. He said he's eager to get back to the practice of law. After his 2013 arrest, and freezing of his law firm's bank account, he said he lost employees and his law office. 

"I'm going to go back to work and try to regain as much as I can from what I lost, which is going to be tough," said Mathis. "Will I ever be restored? No, but I'll do what I can."

Mathis' conviction was overturned by the District Court of Appeals in October, which ruled Mathis was not given the opportunity to call certain witnesses in his defense at his first trial.

Stone said after the overturned conviction, the Attorney General's Office continued preparations to retry Mathis.

 "A lot of discussions were had concerning all the aspects of the cases and one of the things we mentioned was there really wasn't a need to continue this prosecution," Stone said. "Nothing good would come out of that."

Stone said part of the defense they would have presented at a retrial could have included calling Attorney General Pam Bondi to the stand as a witness. 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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