SANFORD, Fla. -

The Jacksonville lawyer who prosecutors say masterminded a veterans' charity that was actually a $290 million gambling operation is the first of dozens of defendants to go to trial.

Jury selection starts Monday in Kelly Mathis' trial. It comes six months after Mathis and 56 other defendants affiliated with Allied Veterans of the World were arrested and charged with money laundering and other charges.

Several defendants have reached plea agreements with prosecutors.

Mathis says he merely gave legal advice. He says a conviction could send a chilling effect to other lawyers if his prosecution is successful.

The arrests led to the resignation of Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who had worked as an Allied Veterans consultant. It also inspired the Florida Legislature to ban the Internet cafes.