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BINGO! Feds Indict 4 Ala. Lawmakers and 7 Others in Bribery Scheme Involving Gambling Legislation

Sen. Larry Means/gov photo

Sen. Larry Means/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Four Alabama state legislators, three lobbyists, two business owners and one of their employees and an employee of legislature were indicted in a bribery scheme to promote legislation to legalize  electronic bingo machines, the Justice Department announced Monday.

“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,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division said in a statement.

Sen. Jim Preuitt/gov photo

Sen. Jim Preuitt/gov photo

“Vote-buying, like the kind alleged in this indictment, corrodes the public’s faith in our democratic institutions and cannot go unpunished.”

The indictment says that Milton E. McGregor, the owner of Alabama’s biggest casino, wanted to pass the legislation.  His casino had 6,000 bingo machines, but was shut down after the governor declared the machines illegal and sent out a task force to enforce that.

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

Authorities said during the 2009 and 2010 Alabama state legislative sessions, McGregor and Gilley and others pushed for pro-gambling legislation that would have helped businesses legally display electronic bingo machines.

To help push through the legislation, they allegedly gave money and gifts state legislators and staff, authorities charged.

The Legislator included: State Senator Larry P. Means, State Senator James E. Preuitt, State Senator Quinton T. Ross Jr. and Senator Harri Anne H. Smith.

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