Skip to main content

11 charged in Alabama federal corruption case

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
DOJ: 'This is astonishing in scope'
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two businessmen offered bribes for favorable legislation, a federal prosecutor said
  • A federal official calls the alleged criminal acts "astonishing in scope"
  • 7 suspects have been arrested and 3 are negotiating their surrender, officials said

Get more on the story from CNN affiliate WKRG.

(CNN) -- Federal officials announced charges Monday against 11 people in Alabama as part of a 39-count indictment alleging corruption related to the state legislature.

The suspects are four Alabama state legislators; three lobbyists; two business owners and one of their employees; and an employee of the Alabama legislature, said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer and Assistant FBI Director Kevin Perkins.

The suspects were charged in connection with their alleged roles in a conspiracy to bribe and offer to bribe legislators for their votes and influence on proposed legislation, the federal officials said.

"The alleged criminal scheme was astonishing in scope," Breuer said. "Indeed, as alleged in the indictment, the defendants' corrupt conduct infiltrated every layer of the legislative process in the state of Alabama."

Seven people have been arrested and three others were negotiating their surrender, the federal officials said in a news conference in Alabama. There was no indication of the status of the 11th person.

According to federal officials, two businessmen stood to gain from the alleged crimes.

"We allege that from February 2009 through August 2010, two owners of gaming and entertainment establishments and one of their employees; three registered lobbyists working on their behalf; four Alabama state senators; and one state-employed legislative analyst all participated in a wide-ranging conspiracy to buy and sell votes on legislation in Alabama that would directly benefit the business interests of two of the defendants, Milton McGregor and Ronald Gilley," Breuer said.

A grand jury in Montgomery, Alabama, returned the indictment Friday. It was unsealed Monday.

The charges include conspiracy, federal program bribery, extortion, money laundering, honest services mail and wire fraud, obstruction of justice and making a false statement, the Justice Department said.

The suspects were scheduled to make initial appearances Monday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama before U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry F. Moorer.

According to the indictment, McGregor owned a controlling interest in Macon County Greyhound Park Inc., also known as Victoryland, in Macon County, Alabama, and Jefferson Country Racing Association in Jefferson County, Alabama, as well as ownership interest in other entertainment and gambling facilities in Alabama that offered or sought to offer electronic bingo gambling machines to the public.

Gilley owned a controlling interest in the Country Crossing real estate, entertainment and gambling development in Houston County, Alabama, which also sought to offer electronic bingo gambling machines to the public, the indictment said.

"Specifically, as charged in the indictment, Mr. McGregor and Mr. Gilley employed lobbyists, including defendants Thomas Coker, Robert Geddie and Jarrod Massey, in a full-scale campaign to bribe and coerce state legislators and others into supporting pro-gambling legislation that they favored," Breuer said at the news conference. "Put simply, they are charged with having offered huge sums of money and other benefits in exchange for the legislators' votes."

The state senators were identified as Larry Means, James Preuitt, Quinton Ross and Harri Anne Smith.

Means and Ross are Democrats, according to the Alabama legislature website. Preuitt is listed as a Republican. The website says Smith "served as a Republican since first being elected to the Alabama Senate" in 1998 but became an independent on June 1. The website also says she is a member of the Geneva County Republican Executive Committee and "works as a volunteer in Republican campaigns at the local and state level."

The legislators are charged, Breuer said, with "accepting or agreeing to accept -- and, in some cases, demanding -- these bribes, in the form of campaign contributions, campaign appearances by country music stars, fundraising assistance and other things of value."

Additionally, Breuer said, one of the defendants, a legislative analyst named Joseph Crosby, is charged with having accepted monthly payments of $3,000 from McGregor in exchange for taking official action to amend the pro-gambling legislation in a way that would benefit McGregor.

The federal prosecutor also announced Monday a plea agreement with former lobbyist Jennifer Pouncy, who he said has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy for her role in the vote-buying scheme.

The Justice Department said the defendants named in the indictment unsealed Monday were charged with the following crimes:

-- Milton E. McGregor, 71, of Montgomery, Alabama, was charged with one count of conspiracy, six counts of federal program bribery and 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud.

-- Ronald E. Gilley, 45, of Enterprise, Alabama, was charged with one count of conspiracy, six counts of federal program bribery, 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud and four counts of money laundering.

-- Jarrod D. Massey, 39, of Montgomery, was charged with one count of conspiracy, five counts of federal program bribery and 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud.

-- Thomas E. Coker, 70, of Lowndesboro, Alabama, was charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts of federal program bribery, and 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud.

-- Robert B. Geddie Jr., 60, of Montgomery, was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of federal program bribery, 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud and one count of obstruction of justice.

-- Jarrell W. Walker Jr., 36, of Lanett, Alabama, was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of federal program bribery, and 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud.

-- Harri Anne H. Smith, 48, of Slocomb, Alabama, was charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts of federal program bribery, one count of extortion, 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud, and four counts of money laundering.

-- Larry P. Means, 63, of Attalla, Alabama, was charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts of federal program bribery, two counts of attempted extortion, and 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud.

-- James E. Preuitt, 75, of Talladega, Alabama, was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of federal program bribery, one count of attempted extortion, 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud, and one count of making a false statement.

-- Quinton T. Ross Jr., 41, of Montgomery, was charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts of federal program bribery, two counts of attempted extortion, and 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud.

-- Joseph R. Crosby, 61, of Montgomery, was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of federal program bribery, and 11 counts of honest services mail and wire fraud.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the Justice Department said.

The federal program bribery charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Each count of extortion, honest services mail and wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The false statement charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

CNN's Jim Barnett contributed to this report.

Lawyers.com Lexis Nexis Logo

Law firm search