The 5th District Court of Appeals has thrown out the convictions of Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis and ordered a new trial in the Allied Veterans of the World gambling case.
The decision was announced today.
After the verdict, his defense attorney, Mitch Stone, called the decision in the potential precedent-setting case "very disturbing."
From the start, prosecutors called Mathis the "mastermind" of a $300 million gambling operation they said was run through Internet cafes owned or operated by Allied Veterans of the World.
The appellate court, based in Daytona Beach, ruled Mathis was not allowed to call witnesses that could have bolstered his defense, which was an issue long protested by Mathis and Stone.
Mathis, a former president of The Jacksonville Bar Association, contended from the start he only provided legal advice to the nonprofit that operated a series of Internet cafes. He received about $6 million in legal fees over the years, but did not profit from the business.
He was suspended by the Florida Supreme Court from practicing law after the conviction.
In a March 2015 interview with the Daily Record, Mathis said he was still hoping to clear his name. He recounted having to spend four days in jail after his arrest, closing down his law practice and the toll the case had taken on his family.
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