CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) ó A northwest Indiana judge issued an arrest warrant
for an online entrepreneur who failed to appear in court to face charges
related to more than $1 million in gambling debts.
If 37-year-old Johnny Mathis Jr. turns himself in at the Lake County Jail as
ordered, heíll be held under $5.75 million bond.
Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. issued the warrant after
Mathis failed to show up for a hearing Thursday on charges of theft, check
fraud and deception. The hearing was reset for April 1.
Mathis, of LaCrosse, has pleaded not guilty.
Defense attorneys Steve Mullins and Adrian Guzman said that Mathis had gone
to California on a business trip. But the judge said Mathis did not have
permission to leave the state for that purpose.
Mathisí attorneys didnít immediately return phone calls to The Associated
Press seeking comment Saturday. A message also was left at a number for
Mathis was charged in May 2007 after the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond alleged
he had written checks in the amount of $1.3 million to cover his gambling
losses that were returned by his bank as being drawn on a closed account.
Court records cited by the Post-Tribune of Merrillville indicate Mathis paid
$810,000 in criminal restitution on Sept. 14, 2009, and was ordered on Jan.
29 to pay $25,000 by Feb. 1. Records show he made a payment of $25,000 on
Mathis is the founder of a Valparaiso-based Web marketing firm called
Livemercial started in 2003 that claims more than $1 billion in online
sales. Livemercialís Web page says Mathis began the company with a $150
investment and it now has about 100 employees.
Inc. magazine named the company one of the fastest-growing in the country.
In September, The Times of Northwest Indiana honored Mathis in its business
magazine as one of its ď20 Under 40Ē who contribute to the regionís
improvement. A month later, the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development
Center presented Mathis its Entrepreneurial Success Award.
Livemercialís Web site says the company plans to relocate to a
60,000-square-foot dome in Valparaiso. But one of Mathisí companies,
Luckydog LLC, owes nearly $365,000 in taxes on the property, the
Post-Tribune reported. Mathis has said that he is appealing the property
taxes and has paid the taxes he would owe if it were assessed at what he
believes itís worth.
Another of Mathisí companies, Livemercial Aviation Holdings, filed for
bankruptcy in January after it missed the Dec. 31 deadline to pay back a $6
million loan it took out to buy a jet, the newspaper said. Mathis has said
he has an agreement with the bank and has until the end of the year to sell
the aircraft and pay off the loan.