Wednesday, February 2, 2011

BingoGate: CLOSED Hearing set on motions to compel

UPDATE: Capel has moved the hearing to 9:30 am, Tuesday, February 8. It will still be CLOSED.

Behind closed doors, US Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel will hear oral arguments on motions from Tom Coker and Milton McGregor to compel the release of certain information being held by the prosecution.

The hearing is set for 9:30 am, Friday morning:


Specifically, defendant Coker wants the government to reveal the identity of an individual who, apparently, was heard on one or more of the government’s intercepted conversations. It is widely believed that this individual incriminated himself, Coker or perhaps an as-yet unnamed person of interest. The government did not turn over all of the wiretap binders until January 18. Within days, Coker’s defense team filed a motion (under seal) to learn the individual’s identity.

Recall that Coker, along with co-defendant and Auburn graduate Robert Geddie, both worked for Casino owner, Auburn booster and Colonial Bank director Milton McGregor in the alleged conspiracy to commit bribery, extortion, fraud and money laundering in connection with the gambling legislation moving through the Alabama Legislature in the 2010 session.

McGregor himself has also filed a motion to compel, also under seal. That prompted a sealed court order, which in turn prompted the government to file a motion requesting a protective order on information related to McGregor’s request.

What does all this mean?

It means that the government’s expanded probe is not yet complete and accordingly, the widely expected new indictments are not forthcoming in the immediate future. However, since the government agreed to provide the wiretap information and documents related to witness interviews, that phase of the investigation is almost certainly complete, and the government’s wish to have the court issue a “gag order” on information it has in possession means that the overall case is progressing. It also strongly suggests that the government’s expanded probe has been successful and productive.

Kudos to Peter Ainsworth’s Public Integrity Section of Justice’s Criminal Division which is prosecuting the case, and kudos also to the FBI’s Mobile Field Office, which is providing the field agents and other personnel investigating the case.

Exit question: What are the chances that, should the court compel the government to reveal the identity of the Secret Witness, a prominent figure in Alabama power circles gets a federal protective detail?