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Mathis

Kelly Mathis case likely coming to 4th Circuit

By Marilyn Young, Editor

The attorney representing Kelly Mathis in his disciplinary case is asking that the matter be reassigned to a judge in the 4th Circuit.

The Florida Supreme Court handed down an emergency suspension against Mathis in October after a Sanford jury found him guilty in the $300 million Allied Veterans of the World gambling case.

As is common, the disciplinary case was assigned to a "referee" outside the circuit where Mathis' practice is based. Judge Kathryn Nelson of Fort Pierce was picked as the referee for the case, according to Carlos Leon of The Florida Bar.

Brian Tannebaum, who is representing Mathis, said his client has the right to request the change to his home circuit. The motion requesting the change was mailed to Nelson on Monday. If the request is granted, a judge in the 4th Circuit will be selected to handle the case.

Tannebaum said he's not concerned about the case being heard by a judge before whom Mathis has appeared.

"I believe Mr. Mathis is one of the most respected lawyers in Duval County," said Tannebaum, whose office is in Miami.

He said the "bulk of his practice" is representing lawyers before the Bar. He said Mathis' criminal defense attorney, Mitch Stone, referred Mathis to him.

In a related issue, Tannebaum said the Supreme Court granted a request to allow Mathis more time before his suspension takes effect.

When an attorney is suspended by the Supreme Court, he or she is typically given 30 days to wrap up business. The court agreed to a 20-day extension, allowing Mathis to continue practicing until Dec. 18.

Mathis was found guilty Oct. 11 of 51 charges each of setting up or conducting a lottery and possession of an illegal slot machine, as well as a single count of racketeering.

The latter carries a sentence of up to 30 years. He was acquitted of conspiracy.

Mathis remains free on bond and has a pre-sentencing hearing scheduled Feb. 12.

Tannebaum said that Judge Kenneth Lester still has pending post-trial motions to determine if Mathis is entitled to a new trial.

Stone is appealing the verdicts.

Prosecutors called Mathis the mastermind behind Allied Veterans' Internet café business, saying it was an illegal gambling operation masquerading as a charity.

Allied gave about 2 percent — about $6 million — of what it brought in to veterans-related charities.

Mathis was paid about the same amount of money as Allied's attorney.

Stone has said Mathis served only as Allied's lawyer and was not involved in the day-to-day operation of the business.

myoung@baileypub.com

@editormarilyn

(904) 356-2466

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