Some of the suspects charged in a federal investigation into a nonprofit that runs some Central Florida Internet cafes and is linked to the resignation of Florida's lieutenant governor are expected to face a judge today.
Investigators say that nonprofit group Allied Veterans of the World claimed to raise money for veterans but instead made some executives, lawyers and others rich, who spent millions on boats, beachfront condos and Maseratis, Ferraris and Porsches. Investigators say the group claimed to give away $6 million to helping veterans during the past four years but instead, it made nearly $300 million in that time.
In a Seminole County courtroom Wednesday, 15 faced a judge in connection with the Internet cafe scandal.
More than a dozen of Allied Vets' Central Florida Internet cafes have been shut down.
Among those arrested include head of Allied Jerry Bass and his attorney, Kelly Mathis. Two members of the Jacksonville police union are also accused of accepting bribes.
More than a dozen lawyers showed up to argue for their clients Wednesday, but a county judge pushed back the 15 bond hearings to Thursday.
"We have innocent people, business people, sitting in jail, with no bond, and their property seized. Does that sound like something that's supposed to happen in America?" attorney Mark Nejame said.
Republican Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, 53, resigned Wednesday, a day after being questioned by investigators. Her public relations firm once did work for the group. In a statement about her resignation, Carroll said she refused to "allow the allegations facing a former client of my public relations firm to undermine the important work of the governor and his administration."
Carroll has not been charged.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi called the alleged scam "callous" and "despicable" and said it "insults every American who ever wore a military uniform."
Allied Vets runs almost 50 Internet parlors with computerized slot machine-style games, which are in a gray legal area in Florida.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.