The game makers argue they are legal sweepstakes because there’s a predetermined number of winners, similar to a McDonald’s Monopoly game or Coca-Cola’s cap contest.
“The law is filled with ambiguities. The lawyer’s job is to come up with a legal opinion to advocate for that position,” Mathis said. “Even right now in the state of Florida, there is no appellate court opinion. There is no definitive black and white answer. I and my clients were complying with the law.”
Mathis is a registered lobbyist and said he met with Jennifer Carroll several years ago while she was a member of the Florida House of Representatives.
Mathis said he had lunch “a couple of times” with Carroll and was asked to explain to her how the cafes operated under the law.
He said he didn’t know anything about the public relations firm she co-owned or work that it did for Allied.
Mathis said he’s met Gov. Rick Scott once, during the governor’s inaugural ball.
He said that he knows nothing about the charity angle of the business — prosecutors say that only 2 percent of the nearly $300 million earned by Allied went to charity — and that he merely advised the company about laws regarding philanthropy.
Mathis said he has only been paid his hourly fee for his work with Allied.
Mitch Stone, Mathis’s attorney, said that at one point, Allied wanted to reduce the amount they were paying in legal fees and have Mathis work for a flat rate. Stone said that if Mathis was the “ringleader” of the operation, it made no sense that he would want to reduce his payments.
Mathis said he is being targeted by Seminole County officials because he sued the county over its stance on Internet cafes.
“I think the law permitted the activities that my clients were doing,” he said. “Some people call it a loophole. To me, it’s either allowed by the law or not allowed by the law.”
Anthony Alfieri, a professor at the University of Miami’s School of Law, said Mathis has a difficult task ahead.
“He’s going to have to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt, with hard evidence that his belief was reasonable at that time,” said Alfieri. “The key analysis is not what he thought was criminal or fraudulent. The key for both the state attorney and for ultimately, the Florida Bar, is whether an objectively reasonable and prudent lawyer should have known better and that’s the case he’s going to have to make.”