Thursday, August 11, 2011

BingoGate Verdict: Not Guilty on some charges, no consensus on all others

image The jury has failed to reach consensus verdicts in USA vs. McGregor et al, a historic case involving a scheme to get legislation allowing Alabama voters to decide on a constitutional amendment that, if passed, would have allowed electronic gambling at casinos in the state.

The big fish in the case—casino owner, Auburn booster and political power broker Milton McGregor—was acquitted on one count but the jury reached no consensus on the other charges. Auburn’s lead lobbyist Robert Geddie was acquitted and McGregor’s lead lobbyist Tom Coker was cleared of some charges while getting no verdict on the other counts.

Not one of the defendants were convicted. The only verdicts delivered were not guilty.

The government tried its level best to bungle this case, and it has obviously succeeded. During post-trial interviews, jurors explained that the government simply failed to prove its case, echoing a theme stated by defense attorneys throughout testimony. Their first witness—Scott Beason—was destroyed on cross examination based on racially insensitive remarks he’d made on recordings. The prosecution seriously underestimated the vigor and quality of the defense team’s efforts and got caught with their pants around their ankles time and time again during testimony. The trial began with jury selection on June 6 and concluded on August 11. Ten weeks later, the government has nothing to show for what should have been a slam dunk case for them.

Exit Question #1: What consequences do today’s verdicts have on the FBI’s expanding probe of corruption in the state?

Exit Question #2: How must Jennifer Pouncy, Jarrod Massey and Ron Gilley feel now? Each pleaded guilty and testified against the others during the trial. It now seriously looks as if they will be the only ones spending any time in the big house.