Alabama lobbyists and senators faced federal investigation over Bingo electronic machines that were banned.
Bingo assaulted in Alabama
The federal government recommended three men in Alabama serve prison sentences in their role to influence pro-gambling legislation on the game, Bingo. Ronnie Gilley and his former lobbyist, Jarrod Massey, were recommended to serve prison terms of approximately 11 years each. Former legislator, Terry Spicer, could serve four to six years in prison, according to the government. Formal sentencing for all was pending. Four senators were also indicted. They have since been acquitted.
Gilley’s prison time was reduced because Gilley helped the government’s investigation by meeting with them frequently and steering them in the right direction more than once. He assisted the Alabama Attorney General’s office with a corruption case and testified in two trials that required him to be on the witness stand for 11 days total. Last year, Gilley pleaded guilty to conspiracy; bribery, six counts; and money laundering, four counts. The charges stem from a plan to bribe elected officials to pass pro-gambling legislation. The case has been called the Bingo Corruption Case. Gilley was actually eligible to receive a sentence of 21 to 27 years, but his assistance to the government knocked a possible 16 years off.
The lobbyists also pleaded guilty. In addition to Massey, Lobbyist Jennifer Pouncy admitted guilt. Two separate trials acquitted all other persons associated with the case, including the casino owner. But the case took a dreary turn about six months ago when one of the defendants was found dead, apparently from suicide. Ray Crosby, a former legislative analyst in Alabama, was said to be financially drained from the Bingo Corruption Case, which was scheduled for its second trial. Jury selection was suspended after Crosby’s body was discovered. Family members commented on a news site about Crosby’s financial state and that they believe he died of a heart attack.
Background information on the case points to the Casino Owner Milton McGregor, who suffered a huge monetary loss because gambling bans were placed on his Bingo electronic gambling machines. In one year, his 6,000 machines raked in $40 million in revenue, but after the ban, McGregor lost $4 million from the year’s profits. McGregor was tied to Gilley through a casino development Gilley was overseeing. Lawmakers were persuaded to lift the ban on the electronic Bingo machines. The Federal Bureau of Investigation worked with law enforcement and politicians to monitor conversations about the conspiracy by recording them, but defense attorneys scoffed at the tapes, saying the conversations revealed normal discussion about the lawmaking process.
Electronic Bingo machines have caused its owners a lot of grief in the past several years. The Alabama Attorney General informed Bingo resorts they would have to get rid of the machines or they would be at the mercy of local law enforcement raids. Indeed, state troopers conducted numerous raids in the early morning hours to shut Bingo halls down by order of the governor. A new governor ended up disbanding the taskforce at the same time the attorney general warned Alabama’s gambling laws would be enforced. At least one judge ruled in favor of the machines for local venues, however, major Bingo operations were raided days following the ruling.