Bond reduced for Jacksonville lawyer, police union president charged in alleged gambling ring

March 18, 2013

A well-known Jacksonville police union president and the alleged mastermind of a $300 million gambling racket are among several suspects who had bond reduced and posted enough money to get out of jail while awaiting trial. The case, which involves gambling at internet cafes where the proceeds were purported to be going to a veterans' charity, rocked the state last week and even led to the resignation of the lieutenant governor, who was questioned by the FBI about the consulting work she did for the charity, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union.

The Jacksonville ties to this Theft Case are abundant: local Fraternal Order of Police President Nelson Cuba and his second-in-command are accused of laundering money and racketeering; Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis is accused of being the mastermind in the scheme and Jerry Bass, commander of the Allied Veterans of the World, was also arrested, the newspaper reported. All face multiple fraud, racketeering and gambling charges - all felonies in Florida. They were arrested while in South Florida for a conference and spent three nights in jail while the court sorted out the conditions upon which they could be released.

Defense attorneys in the case were upset about the way the bond hearings were handled, the newspaper reported. Once a person is arrested in Florida, they are entitled to a bond hearing within 24 hours of being arrested. In this case, the hearing was continued without a decision until Thursday, despite the fact the men were arrested Tuesday, the newspaper reported. Once they were set, criminal defense attorneys then said they were too high -- $1 million for Mathis and $500,000 for Cuba. In most cases, the suspects are able to use a bondsman who will post the bond if the suspect pays 10 percent - so that would have been $100,000 for Mathis and $50,000 for Cuba.

But, as in many Jacksonville Theft Cases like this, the court holds what is called a Nebbia Hearing to determine if the person has enough legitimate funds to post the bail. This is done to prevent people from using stolen or ill-gotten funds to get released from jail. The court ultimately sliced the bonds in half for both men and determined they had access to legitimate funds that could be used for the bail. Both men were released on Friday, the newspaper reported. Both had conditions placed on them, including that they surrender their passport and not leave the state - both of which are common in criminal cases. The ability to bond out, especially in this case, could be significant for the suspects. More than 50 people have been arrested in this multi-state investigation and an eventual trial could be a couple of years off. In some cases, defendants end up waiting behind bars for two or three years before they are able to go to trial.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Duval County Theft Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.