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Alabama casino developer pleads guilty

22 April 2011

ALABAMA -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- An Alabama businessman pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel Jr. to his role in conspiring to bribe legislators in exchange for their favorable votes on pro-gambling legislation, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Lewis M. Chapman of the FBI’s Mobile Field Office.

Ronald E. Gilley, 46, of Enterprise, Ala., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama to one count of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, six counts of federal program bribery and four counts of money laundering. Gilley and 10 co-defendants were charged in a 39-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Oct. 1, 2010, with a variety of criminal offenses for their alleged roles in the bribery scheme. Jarrod Massey, 39, of Montgomery, Ala., a lobbyist for Gilley, pleaded guilty on Dec. 20, 2010, for his role in the conspiracy. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 15, 2011. The remaining nine defendants include two current Alabama state legislators, two former Alabama state legislators, two lobbyists, one business owner, an employee of Gilley and an employee of the Alabama legislature.

“Ronald Gilley thought votes could be bought and sold in Alabama,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “He participated in a wide-ranging scheme to bribe state legislators into supporting a law that would fatten his wallet. But he, like his co-conspirators, was stopped in his tracks. Now, Mr. Gilley must face the consequences of his corruption.”

“Mr. Gilley’s plea demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to investigate violations of the public’s trust,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Chapman. “His plea should further serve as a way to repair the public’s trust in local officials and demonstrates how people can and will be held accountable for their actions. The public is encouraged to continue to disclose information regarding corrupt activities by persons in positions of trust to the FBI. Investigations involving violations of the public’s trust represents one of the highest priorities of the FBI. ”

According to information contained in court documents and presented during the plea hearing, Gilley owned a controlling interest in Country Crossing, an entertainment and gambling development in Houston County, Ala., which also sought to offer electronic bingo gambling machines to the public. Milton E. McGregor owned a controlling interest in Macon County Greyhound Park Inc., also known as Victoryland, in Macon County, Ala., and Jefferson County Racing Association in Jefferson County, Ala. He also had an ownership interest in other entertainment and gambling facilities in Alabama, including Country Crossing, which offered or sought to offer electronic bingo gambling machines to the public.

According to court documents, during the 2009 and 2010 Alabama state legislative sessions, Gilley and McGregor, along with others, allegedly promoted the passage of pro-gambling legislation that would have been favorable to the business interests of individuals operating electronic bingo facilities in Alabama, including themselves.

Gilley admitted, among other things, his involvement in offering things of value worth millions of dollars to members of the Alabama legislature, in exchange for legislators’ votes. Gilley also admitted directing lobbyists who worked for him, including Massey and Jennifer D. Pouncy, to offer legislators bribes for their votes. Pouncy, 34, of Montgomery, Ala., pleaded guilty on Sept. 28, 2010, for her role in the bribery conspiracy, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 11, 2011.

According to court documents, Gilley and others attempted to conceal the true nature, source and control of the payments made to members of the Alabama legislature in return for their favorable votes by, among other ways, engaging in financial transactions and disguising illicit payments through political action committees and using conduit contributors.

Gilley faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge. Each count of federal program bribery carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count of money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. In connection with the money laundering charges, Gilley agreed to forfeit $200,000. A sentencing date has not been set.

Trial for the remaining nine defendants is scheduled to begin on June 6, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson. The defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Justin V. Shur, Trial Attorneys Edward T. Kang, Eric G. Olshan, Barak Cohen and E. Rae Woods of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section; Senior Litigation Counsel Brenda K. Morris of the Criminal Division; and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Louis V. Franklin and Steve P. Feaga of the Middle District of Alabama. The case is being supervised by the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and is being investigated by the FBI.

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