Exactly one year ago, officials for the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police and a successful Jacksonville lawyer were arrested in connection a money-laundering scheme. The arrests called into question how Jacksonville lawyers and Florida attorneys should be interpreting gambling laws in Florida. One year into this case, only one person has been tried before a jury of his peers. Kelly Mathis is the Jacksonville lawyer that was accused of being the mastermind behind the gambling operation. His attorney argued that he merely gave legal advise to Allied Veterans of the World, similar to what any other Jacksonville lawyer would do. Mathis was convicted of multiple felonies and sentence to 6 years in Florida State Prison. Mathis will remain out of custody while his case is being appealed. Read “Jacksonville Florida Attorney Sentenced to Prison” for more information.
After one year, I have noticed that this case has somewhat disappeared. The case initially received large amounts of local media attention. Jacksonville criminal lawyers were speaking about the Allied Veterans case around the courthouse. There were news updates on television, but by the time that Mathis went to trial, it was hard to find a story on the case. I would try to write articles on this Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers website and the Jacksonville attorneys website, but there seemed to be a shortage of information. I tried to watch the trial on television and on the computer. I could not find the trial being live-streamed.
Today, it is as if the case has been forgotten. While some defendants have entered into plea deals, there are still defendants that have yet to be tried in this case. Two of the main defendants have not been to trial and have not entered into plea bargains. Robbie Freitas and Nelson Cuba still have pending cases. I feel like I have forgotten so much in one year. When I walked into my Jacksonville law office this morning, my memory was refreshed. A copy of the Jax Daily Record was lying on the desk in the reception area with a headline stating “The Allied Veterans case against Nelson Cuba and Robbie Freitas” Thank you to the Daily Record for keeping many Jacksonville criminal lawyers and other local attorneys up to date on legal news in the area. The article was very detailed and informative. It gave a lot of background information about the investigation. It described how “Jacksonville police arrived outside the Westside home of their comrade, Robbie Freitas” as part of a sweep of arrests that would reveal the alleged scandal. “Freitas, the first vice president of the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police, was ‘Target 2′ in a sweep of suspects in the Allied Veterans of the World gambling/money laundering investigation. ‘Target 1’ was Nelson Cuba, who for 10 years as FOP president led the union.”
The Daily Record reported:
“Since 2010, police had been watching transactions involving the two — first in a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office investigation, then as part of the larger Allied Veterans probe. Investigators patiently tracked deposits and withdrawals on accounts linked to Cuba and Freitas. One shell company depositing money from illegal gambling operations into another shell company, authorities said, then regular cash withdrawals by Cuba and Freitas, the only signers on that second account. Deposits totaling $576,100 from Sept. 4, 2009-Dec. 30, 2011, followed by $571,400 in withdrawals. Sheriff John Rutherford would later talk about the patience necessary in establishing a pattern in a “structuring” case — where withdrawals were always under the $10,000 threshold that could trigger scrutiny from federal oversight agencies.”
Where did the money come from? The allegation is that the money came from an Internet gambling cafe. “There was the Internet cafe affiliate, one of five partially operated by Cuba and Freitas, which made deposits totaling $464,295 into a Jacksonville FOP Foundation account at Bank of America. Cuba then wrote six checks totaling $420,000 that were deposited in a Jacksonville FOP Foundation account at BBVA Compass. Cuba was president of the FOP Foundation, as well.” The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Secret Service and two Florida sheriff’s offices “ultimately uncovered ‘a complex money laundering scheme’ where Allied Veterans brought in $300 million but gave only 2 percent to charities.”
Cuba and Freitas “face an array of charges, including racketeering, money laundering, keeping gambling houses and illegally structuring monetary transactions.” They “are among the 13 defendants whose cases are still pending. An assistant statewide prosecutor said Friday there are still ongoing discussions with the two. While many “defendants have pleaded guilty and are serving no jail time,” Mathis is the exception.