TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a request from Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office to take up a case involving a Jacksonville attorney accused of racketeering and gambling-related crimes because of his links to the internet cafe industry.
The Supreme Court decision was a victory for Kelly Mathis, a former Jacksonville Bar Association president who was convicted in 2013 on 103 charges related to his work for the group Allied Veterans of the World, which was a major internet cafe operator.
The 5th District Court of Appeal in October reversed the convictions and said Mathis should receive a new trial.
That prompted Bondi’s office to appeal to the Supreme Court.
As is common, justices did not explain the reasons Wednesday for declining to take up the case.
Internet cafes, which critics derided as “storefront casinos,” offered electronic games that authorities said were akin to slot machines.
Allied Veterans of the World was shut down in 2013 after law-enforcement raids across the state and subsequent changes in state law.
A Seminole County jury found Mathis guilty of one count of racketeering, 51 counts of conducting an illegal lottery and 51 counts of possessing an illegal slot machine.
But the 5th District Court of Appeal ordered a new trial, saying in part that a circuit judge improperly prevented Mathis from presenting evidence that could have showed he was doing legitimate legal work – rather than aiding an illegal operation.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.