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State senators, lobbyists, casino heads indicted

Eleven people — including four state senators, VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor, Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley and lobbyists — were indicted Monday morning on charges of alleged vote buying related to a casino bill, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The state senators are Republicans Harri Anne Smith of Slocumb and James Prueitt of Talladega and Democrats Larry Means of Attalla and Quinton Ross Jr. of Montgomery.

Smith recently launched an independent campaign for her seat after Republicans refused to certify her candidacy because she endorsed Democrat Bobby Bright for U.S. House in a previous election.

“Today, charges were unsealed against 11 legislators, businessmen, lobbyists and associates who, together, are alleged to have formed a corrupt network whose aim was to buy and sell votes in the Alabama legislature in order to directly benefit the business interests of two defendants, Milton McGregor and Ronald Gilley,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. “The people of Alabama, like all our citizens, deserve to have representatives who act in the public’s interest, not for their own personal financial gain.  Vote-buying, like the kind alleged in this indictment, corrodes the public’s faith in our democratic institutions and cannot go unpunished.”

A spokesman for Gov. Bob Riley said the charges were not surprising.

“An independent federal investigation by the Obama Justice Department has resulted in indictments and arrests surrounding the corrupting influence organized gambling has on the Legislature,” Jeff Emerson said. “This is disappointing, but hardly surprising. For many months, Gov. Riley has warned Alabamians that organized gambling is a threat to our state because of its corrupting influence. That’s exactly why Governor Riley has consistently fought the illegal gambling interests. He called the gambling bill that passed the Senate earlier this year, ‘the most corrupt piece of legislation ever considered by the Senate,’ and today’s action by the Justice Department shows he was, sadly, right.”

The defendants named in the indictment unsealed today were charged with the following crimes:

  • Milton E. McGregor, 71, of Montgomery, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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; and
  • 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 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. The indictment also contains a notice of forfeiture as to defendants Smith and Gilley.