Four local men are among dozens arrested in the Allied Veterans Internet café investigation who entered written pleas prior to their arraignments Tuesday in Seminole County.
Former Fraternal Order of Police executives Nelson Cuba and Robbie Freitas, Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis and Allied leader Jerry Bass are among 57 people facing charges in the racketeering and money laundering investigation.
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While their clients waived their appearances, about a dozen attorneys were in court to formally enter the not guilty pleas.
Court officers say Mathis (pictured, right), who was attorney for Allied Veterans of the World and many of its affiliates, will likely go on trial first.
The list of witnesses in the case includes the sheriffs of Baker, Clay, Putnam and St. Johns counties, former Sen. George LeMieux, former Secretary of Agriculture Charles Bronson, and with Jack Webb, another Jacksonville attorney who served a four-year term on Jacksonville City Council.
"He had quite a few bright legal minds, politicians, police officers, attorneys and law officers agree that what was being done in the sweepstakes operation was not illegal," said Mathis' attorney, Mitch Stone.
Orlando Attorney Zachary Stoumbos says lawyers for all the other defendants will be closely watching Mathis' case, since he consulted with Internet cafe owners across the state.
"His advice to everyone, including my people, in our opinion, was consistent with the law, I have nothing negative to say about Mr Mathis," Stoumbos said.
There was no discussion of when the trials would begin, but there are so many cases to hear, the judge indicated he may hear four or five cases simultaneously, and those trials could go on for months.
"This is a unique case. The statewide prosecutor has a huge case ahead of him, and we'll see how it pans out," said Jacob Stuart, who is defending the charges against Kristen Burns.