News broke late yesterday afternoon that Country Crossings owner and developer Ronnie Gilley has decided to flip on the remaining defendants in USA vs. McGregor et al. He will appear in a rare, dramatic Good Friday hearing this morning before US Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel and formally enter his guilty plea.
With the agreement, the Department of Justice swiftly moved to have Gilley released from jail and into the custody of the FBI. Gilley is expected to provide Agents with evidence against the remaining defendants and will remain in their custody up to the scheduled trial date of June 6, 2011.
It is a major development in the case and it represents a potentially devastating blow to the nine defendants still remaining.
Gilley, along with fellow casino owner Milton McGregor, several lobbyists and lawmakers, had been charged in a multicount indictment last October, alleging fraud, bribery and conspiracy in connection with a gambling bill making its way through the 2010 Alabama legislative session.
In the original indictment and accompanying court filings, the Department of Justice alleged that Gilley, working in close concert with McGregor, conspired to bribe legislators to secure their votes on the bill. Two lobbyists working for Gilley—Jennifer Pouncey and Jarrod Massey—have already pled guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Gilley’s flip effectively rolls up the Gilley leg of the two-sided conspiracy.
This leaves McGregor and his lobbyists—Tom Coker and Robert Geddie—at the top of the food chain in the case.
With the Court prepared to make its final ruling dismissing the motions to suppress the wiretap evidence, and with Gilley reportedly suffering miserable conditions in the local lockup, a plea deal from him isn’t shocking. In fact, the Court is most likely to dismiss every pretrial motion made by defendants, and it is becoming clear that the prosecution—which nearly bungled this case beyond repair—has seen its greatest moment of peril pass.
This is typically the point where the white flag of surrender goes up.
Exit Question: The only side of the conspiracy holding fast is the McGregor side. Do we see one or the other of McGregor’s lobbyists blink now? One whole side of the conspiracy has been rolled up and the wiretap evidence will be heard by a jury. If there’s a deal to be had—assuming one has even been offered—who’s the first to take it?