Friday, December 31, 2010

AUBurgeddon: Coker quietly files motions seeking wiretaps

image Typically, the one-week period between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is among the quietest of the year in legal, political and government circles. Very little of any magnitude is attempted, negotiated or accomplished because so many lawyers, clerks, magistrates and judges are taking time off to spend with their families over the holidays. In fact, very little is done the week before or after Christmas for the same reasons. It’s the holidays. Who wants to be bothered with work?

The closing days of the 2010 calendar have been different.

The day after Jarrod Massey changed his plea in a deal with the government for his testimony, Tom Coker, another of the 11 indicted in connection with the scheme to buy votes in the Alabama legislature, filed a motion to compel the government to disclose the contents of the voluminous wiretapped recordings of phone conversations between lobbyists, legislators and others involved in the scheme. The government filed its response to Coker’s motion yesterday, December 30.

The motion, and the response from the government, have gone unnoticed by the legacy media.

Coker’s motion contains the following passage:

1. On December 1, 2010, the Government notified Coker that it was going to make available the “binders submitted to Judge Hobbs during the course of the wiretaps” made in relation to this case.

2. However, the Government also wrote that “only counsel for Mr. McGregor, Mr. Gilley, and Mr. Massey will have access to the binders for their respective client’s phone line(s), as they contain material subject to privilege assertions by those three defendants.”

3. On December 8th, Coker’s counsel requested access to the binders also. In doing so, the undersigned wrote that “[a]ccording to phone logs you produced, over 80 captured communications involved calls to/from Coker’s office or cell phone number.”

Admittedly, numerous of these communications were voice mail messages or communications with Coker’s staff but not Coker himself. Nevertheless, several captured communications involve Coker and he is therefore entitled to access to the binders.

4. Last week, on December 14th, at the hearing before this Court, the Government stated that it was refusing to provide Coker access to these binders.

5. Accordingly, having attempted in good faith to resolve this issue with the Government, counsel now is required to seek the intervention of this Court.

6. Tom Coker is an aggrieved party under the wiretap laws. Under Title III, an
aggrieved person is defined as "a person who was a party to any intercepted wire, oral
or electronic communication or a person against whom the interception was directed".

The government does not vigorously oppose Coker’s motion, but seeks to limit Coker’s access to certain “binders” because Milton McGregor asserts privilege over some of their contents.

Recall that one of the key developments in the Cam Newton investigation was the revelation that the FBI agents looking into the pay-for-play matter were interested in a connection between the Newtons and McGregor.

In a separate but potentially related matter, sources confirm that the New York Times has one or more freelancers in the state of Alabama, filing public records requests with the courts and unnamed state institutions and interviewing several individuals with direct or background knowledge of recruiting and corruption matters.

Recall also that Massey worked for Ronnie Gilley, the developer of the Country Crossings casino in southeast Alabama. He did not work for McGregor.  McGregor employed Robert Geddie and Tom Coker. Massey’s plea does not affect McGregor’s case. But a plea deal between the government and either Geddie, Coker or both would be devastating for the former director of Colonial Bank and Auburn booster.

The big development of the weeks ahead will be whether Coker is given access to the wiretap binders (which describe the contents of the recordings, not the recordings or transcripts themselves) and whether the press—and the public—is finally made aware of the contents.

Many believe those contents could implicate one or more of the 11 indictees in the alleged pay-for-play scandal that erupted onto the national scene on November 4. Others scoff at the notion and believe these issues to be unrelated.

Stay tuned, sports fans.

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