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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Oct. 31, 201312:00 PM EST

Kelly Mathis suspended by Supreme Court

by: Marilyn Young

The Florida Supreme Court has suspended Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis from practicing law.

Mathis was convicted of 103 counts in the Allied Veterans of the World gambling case. A jury in Sanford found him guilty on 51 counts each of setting up or conducting a lottery (a felony) and possession of an illegal slot machine, and one count of racketeering.

Jim Watson, chief branch discipline counsel for The Florida Bar, said he learned this morning that Mathis had been suspended this week.

The case will now be assigned to a "referee" who will make a recommendation on Mathis' future.

Watson said the referee will likely be a judge in the neighboring 7th Judicial Circuit. (Duval County is part of the 4th Circuit.)

The referee has 90 days to hold a hearing as to the proper sanctions. Ultimately, the final decision lies with the court.

Watson said the referee can recommend anything from dismissal of the case to disbarment.

"Generally on a felony conviction, there's a presumption of disbarment and the respondent has to come in and mitigate that down," Watson said.

Either side may appeal the disciplinary decision, he said, but the attorney's suspension remains in effect through the appeal.

Mathis, who remains free on bond, returns to court Feb. 12 for a pre-sentencing hearing.

The statewide prosecutor said previously that the racketeering charge alone could bring a 30-year sentence for Mathis, who is 50.

Mitch Stone, Mathis' criminal defense attorney, is appealing the conviction.

Prosecutors have called Mathis the "mastermind" behind the $300 million Allied Veterans Internet café operation. Mathis was paid $6 million to $7 million in legal fees over several years.

Stone said Mathis was acting only as an attorney and was not involved in the operation of the Internet cafes.

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