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No prison time for ex-Florida veterans charity leader who pleaded to operating illegal lottery

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SANFORD, Florida — The former leader of a Florida veterans' charity that prosecutors said was a front for a $300 million gambling operation won't face any prison time.

Jerry Bass was sentenced Monday in Seminole County Court to time served. The former head of Allied Veterans of America was given credit for time he spent in jail and must pay court costs.

Last year, Bass entered a no-contest plea to two counts of operating an illegal lottery. He had been expected to testify at last year's trial of Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis, but he was never called.

Mathis, who had worked as an attorney for Allied Veterans, and his associates built up the network of casinos by claiming they were businesses where customers could buy Internet time, when in reality most customers played slot machine games on computers and didn't use the Internet.

Even though the so-called Internet cafes were being operated under the aegis of Allied Veterans of the World, very little of the $300 million the businesses earned actually went to veterans, prosecutors said.

Mathis was convicted on 103 counts of racketeering, helping to run a lottery and possessing slot machines. He was sentenced to six years in prison earlier this year but is out on bond pending appeals.

Bass' attorney, Chuck Hobbs, said his client had only taken Mathis' legal advice.

"My client remains disappointed that his name and reputation took a beating for professional conduct that he and other had been advised was legal," Hobbs said.

The case led to the resignation of former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who had done consulting work for Allied Veterans, and it caused the Legislature to ban Internet cafes

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