Arrestees in Seminole County Internet casino case bond out of jail

House Gaming committee votes to ban Internet cafes

Published On: Mar 15 2013 12:26:25 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 15 2013 06:54:53 PM EDT
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MELBOURNE, Fla. -

A state house committee votes for a bill to ban all Internet casino cafes in Florida, as dozens of those charged in a gambling charity operation bond out on Friday.

The Jacksonville attorney who authorities say is at the center of a gambling charity operation under investigation is having his bond reduced from $1 million to $200,000.

A judge reduced Kelly Mathis' bond Friday during a closed-door session in Sanford.

Authorities say the operation Mathis was at the center of generated almost $300 million under the guise that proceeds were donated to veterans' groups, but actually only 2 percent of that was given to charity.

Mathis' attorney says his client did nothing wrong. His attorney, Mitchell Stone, says he expects Mathis to post the bond and be released from the Seminole County Jail later in the day.

The probe into the operations connected to Allied Veterans led to the resignation of Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll earlier this week.

Dozens of the other lower level defendants are reaching deals to post bonds, some of them lower than they've been held on since the arrests earlier in the week.

Among the dozens brought to court Friday morning, several are being held until they can prove the money they post for bond is clean money, not proceeds of what the state says was illegal gambling. The bonds range anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 to $1 million bonds.

The three-year investigation into gambling at strip mall casinos led to the resignation of Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, who promoted and provided public relations to the Allied Veteran's Group before her election, that the state says was an illegal gambling, racketeering and money laundering operation.

The investigation resulted in an additional 50 arrests.

A special House panel also cleared a bill on Friday that would ban the Florida gambling establishments commonly known as Internet cafes.

The House Select committee on gaming Friday voted 15-1 on a bill (HB 155) that was rewritten last night. Rep. Jim Waldman was the only vote against. The Coconut Creek Democrat said the committee hadn't had enough time to study the measure.

The action comes just days after revelation of the investigation. The bill still needs to clear the Rules committee before heading to the floor.