Wednesday May 8,2013 : LAW EXPERTS CALLED BY DEFENCE IN INTERNET CAFE GAMBLING CASE (Update)
Former laws in Florida were subject to interpretation says defence lawyer
The Florida arraignments of 57 defendants charged with running internet cafe gambling operations in the Allied Veterans of the World scandal have highlighted the lack of clarity in former state laws, and the intention of at least one defence lawyer to show that several key experts felt that no offence was committed.
All 57 defendants have entered not guilty pleas.
Jacksonville lawyer Kelly Mathis has been accused of being the mastermind behind the Allied Veterans enterprise, and on Tuesday his attorney publicised an expert witness list that includes former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, former state Agricultural Commissioner Charles Bronson and former Florida Democratic Party chair Scott Maddox.
It also includes the sheriffs of Clay, Columbia, Leon, St. Johns and Suwanee counties and several prosecutors, including Dave Aronberg, the State Attorney for Palm Beach County.
Mathis' legal representative and other defence attorneys say the internet cafes were places where patrons could access the Internet and play sweepstakes-like games that were no different than ones offered by fast food restaurants.
They say that the politicians and law enforcement persons on the list have been called because they had analysed the law, concluding that Mathis did nothing wrong.
"We've listed a number of witnesses who were involved with knowledge of the law and understood what Mr. Mathis had analysed as far as the legality of the sweepstakes promotional law," said Mitchell Stone, Mathis' attorney.
The Florida Legislature approved a sweeping ban on the storefront operations after the investigation into Allied Veterans was announced in March.